What You Need to Know:
✓ Sanctions on Azarov and other former dignitaries of the Yanukovych Regime were lifted on January 28th
✓ "This decision doesn’t mean that sanctions are waived”
✓ In 2015, the EU warned Ukraine that sanctions would be waived if they did not prove that the frozen assets were illegal
✓ Kaleniuk believes that both Ukraine's General Prosecutor Shokin and President Poroshenko should be held responsible
On January 28th, the European Court of Justice made a decision to repeal contested sanctions on former Ukrainian prime-minister Azarov and other former dignitaries of the Yanukovych Regime, due to the lack of evidence provided to the Court by the General Prosecutor of Ukraine.
“The Court decided it was a weak ground for imposing sanctions however this decision doesn’t mean that sanctions are waived,” assures Daria Kaleniuk, a prominent anti-corruption activist from Ukraine. In a month from now, the European Council will review sanctions once again, however, “The EU is concerned with the fact that it will be possible to rely on the General Prosecutor’s office in the future,” she adds.
In 2015, the EU warned Ukraine that sanctions would be waived if they did not prove that the frozen assets were illegal: “It was important for Azarov and others to contest these sanctions just to make a claim later on to say to the EU the sanctions are weak you did wrong, so please give us payment back,” Kaleniuk points out.
According to Kaleniuk, blame should not only be placed on Prosecutor Shokin, whose failure to comply with requests of the EU Courts has received much criticism - the Ukrainian president should also be held responsible: “I think President Poroshenko decided to continue using the Prosecutor General Office as it was used for decades in Ukraine as a tool for political battles. Prosecution is a very powerful office in Ukraine still disregarding the new legislative changes. And if you have your loyal and controlled prosecutor, you can trigger a case, close a case against anyone.”
Ukrainian new institutions such as the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor and the Anti-Corruption Bureau, which are independent of the General Prosecutor have recently come into existence. “One month ago, they got real investigative powers to start investigations. In December, they started to work, and there are powerful people being investigated…We have to give them time, and it looks like they are capable of doing their work well,” Kakeniuk adds.
Hromadske’s Ian Bateson spoke with Daria Kaleniuk, Executive Director of the Anti-Corruption Action Center during the live broadcast of The Sunday Show in Kyiv on January 31st, 2016.