Political Sanctions Against Ukraine


The Maidan Square disaster on the eve of the Ukrainian Revolution and the following fall of Yanukovych’s government, triggered the Russian annexation of Crimea and a souring of the relationship between Russia and the West. On March 5, 2014 the EU Council froze the assets of 18 former Ukrainian high-ranking officials, suspected of involvement in the Maidan Square disaster and misappropriation of state property. Among them Mykola Azarov, the former Prime Minister of Ukraine, and his son Oleksii Azarov, turned to Alber & Geiger for help.


ag-wins-map-ukraine The strategy employed was built on an awareness of the full scope of the rule of law in Europe today, looking at the procedural fairness surrounding the sanctions. It required a subtle deployment of innovative legal arguments and emotional intelligence to navigate through the political turbulence, EU officials and peripheral actors to the institutions, for Alber & Geiger to demonstrate their innocence with strong convictions about their executive culpability. We put forward that the freezing of funds was of a persecutive nature and not within EU competence. The three pronged approach attacked the premise of the sanctions at the right places and times. Alber & Geiger challenged the (1) legality, (2) legitimacy and (3) non-arbitrariness of the action, grasping all the potential playmakers.


Ultimately the we were able to successfully get the freezing orders imposed on Oleksii Azarov removed, and considerably improve the position of Mykola Azarov. We made clear that the arbitrary targeting of individuals lacked a sufficient legal premise. Through diligent fact finding we were able to cast doubt on the premise of the government’s alleged responsibility in the first place. We ultimately managed to help reinforce the rule of law, getting platform for the notions of fairness and equitable treatment of individuals into the public forum at a time when fairness was not an institutional priority.