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Prosecutor General: implementing step-by-step strategy to maintain EU sanctions against ex-officials

KYIV. Nov 23 (Interfax-Ukraine) – Former high-ranking officials involved in the misappropriation of public funds in Ukraine and human rights violations should remain under sanctions, Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova has said.

"For the second time, we gathered at the highest level to discuss all the measures that we can take to extend personal special economic and other restrictive measures by the sanctions unit of the European Union," Venediktova said on Facebook on Tuesday.

The Prosecutor General said that she discussed the strategy for maintaining the sanctions with Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Olha Stefanishyna, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba, the leadership of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the National Police, the State Bureau of Investigations, NABU and SAPO.

Venediktova said the result of the coordination of actions earlier was progress in the investigation of proceedings concerning the persons under the sanction.

According to the prosecutor general, during 2021, one of the defendants changed his suspicion, satisfied three petitions to elect the suspect a preventive measure in the form of detention (in absentia), sent nine inquiries within the international cooperation, and also seized four bank accounts of the former top official. "In addition, the courts have satisfied five requests for permission to carry out a special pretrial investigation and another such request is under consideration," the prosecutor general has said.

She said that Ukrainian law enforcement agencies are in constant communication with the European External Action Service in order to maintain the applied sanctions.

Venediktova said the European External Action Service was sent four times information on the state of pretrial investigation in criminal proceedings against persons subject to EU sanctions.

Venediktova said that in 2014 the EU applied sanctions against 22 people, but not all of the proceedings started in 2014 were promising, so the lifting of restrictive measures was quite natural. "After the annual revisions, the sanctions against seven people remain in force," the prosecutor general said.

At the same time, Venediktova said that Ukrainian law enforcement agencies are conducting a pretrial investigation in 20 criminal proceedings against these seven defendants, eight of which are being investigated by the SBI, seven by the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU), three by the National Police, two by the State Security Service of Ukraine.

According to the prosecutor general, the investigation of some of these cases was suspended due to the search for suspects, in other cases the collection of evidence continues, there are also cases at the final stage of the investigation and at the stage of familiarizing the parties with the materials of the investigation. "The most important thing for the preservation of sanctions is precisely the sentences," Venediktova said.

She drew attention to the fact that the law enforcement agencies of Ukraine are engaged in the search for property, funds and other assets that can be the subject of confiscation or special confiscation.

"It should be noted that a significant number of assets in Ukraine, the Swiss Confederation, the Principality of Liechtenstein and the Republic of Latvia have been seized in criminal proceedings against former officials, including those against whom sanctions have been lifted by the European Union over $119 million, over CHF 74 million and UAH 172 million in cash, corporate rights for UAH 776 million, 36 real estate objects, historical and cultural values, and so on," the prosecutor general said.

"The key persons involved in the misappropriation of state funds in Ukraine and the violation of human rights must remain under sanctions, and must also be brought to justice to the fullest extent of the law, and the damage caused by their illegal actions must be reimbursed," Venediktova said.