In a scathing report by Human Rights Without Frontiers International, an NGO, the EU is sharply criticized for aiding the political cleansing of former Yanoukovych Administration members in Ukraine.

The report hinges on the case of Andrii Volodymyrovych Portnov, a former adviser to the President of Ukraine. Mr. Portnov was placed under Restrictive Measures on March 5, 2014, by the Council of the European Union. In its Decision (Ref. 2014/119/CFSP), the Council states the reason for Mr. Protnov’s inclusion in the Restrictive Measures as “[A] Person subject to criminal proceedings in Ukraine to investigate crimes in connection with the embezzlement of Ukrainian State funds and their illegal transfer outside Ukraine.”

However, Mr. Portnov challenged the Prosecutor General’s Office to a series of legal appeals, which not only did he win, but the court obliged the Prosecutor General’s Office to inform the European External Action Service of a lack of evidence on all charges.

Mr. Portnov was removed from EU sanctions list on March 6, 2015. Several other members of the Yanoukovych Administration, also under EU Restrictive Measures, are expected to follow suit.

HRWF concludes:

“A.V. Portnov has been relentlessly prosecuted but all the courts have dismissed the official accusations that were made public by the General Prosecutor’s Office through its official website and the social media, disregarding the presumption of innocence.

It is obvious that Ukrainian authorities were guided by personal revenge and political settlement of scores.

This case and increasing malpractices in many areas denounced by Ukrainian NGOs show that there is still a long way to go for the heirs of Maidan to live up to their commitments to democracy and the rule of law in Ukraine.

What is worse is the international impact of the miscarriage of justice of the EU in A.V. Portnov’s case. He was blacklisted by the EU and some other non-EU countries and subject to their public sanctions. In a sense, the EU participated in and was also partly responsible for the international disgrace of A.V. Portnov, although he was removed from the list of sanctions one year later. In the future the EU might have to reconsider its sanctions procedures in the light of the presumption of innocence.”


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