KYIV (Reuters) – Ukraine has imposed sanctions on former President Viktor Yanukovich and ex-Prime Minister Mykola Azarov, freezing their assets and property, banning them from withdrawing capital from the country and stripping them of all state awards.
Both fled Ukraine and went to Russia in 2014 after street protests in which more than 100 demonstrators were killed in the capital, Kyiv, as security forces cracked down.
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy provided details of the sanctions in a televised statement, confirming an announcement earlier on Friday by Oleksiy Danilov, Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council.
“This decision by the National Security and Defense Council can be described in two words – it is logical and strange. It is logical that Ukraine is … introducing such sanctions, and it’s strange that this hasn’t been done since 2014,” Zelenskiy said.
Representatives of Yanukovich did not respond to a request for comment.
A Ukrainian court in 2019 sentenced him in absentia to 13 years in jail for treason.
Yanukovich has denied all allegations against him and blamed armed nationalist radicals for fomenting violence in the protests that prompted him to flee.
Azarov left for Russia soon after resigning in January 2014.
“This is political persecution, unmotivated, a common extrajudicial reprisal,” a representative of Azarov quoted him as saying.
An Interpol red notice issued in 2015 at the request of Ukrainian authorities cited accusations against Azarov including embezzlement and misappropriation.
Interpol cancelled that red notice in 2017 after Azarov successfully challenged it, according to an Interpol document viewed by Reuters. Interpol said it did not comment on individual cases.
(Reporting by Pavel Polityuk in Kyiv and Anton Zverev in Moscow; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Timothy Heritage)