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Leonid Bershidsky

Ukraine Gives a Pass to Thugs

Four of ex-President Viktor Yanukovych's close allies have been taken off the European sanctions list because Ukraine has failed to pursue them.
Let's not overreact either.

Let's not overreact either.

Photographer: Yury KirnichnyAFP/Getty Images

One of the most urgent demands made during Ukraine's "revolution of dignity" last year was that the leading figures of deposed President Viktor Yanukovych's regime be brought to justice for plunder. But so far almost all of them, including Yanukovych himself, have gotten off scot free, because the new government is not pursuing them. And now, frustrated at the lack of evidence gathered against the old leaders, the European Union is beginning to lift its sanctions on them.

The EU sanctioned Yanukovych and 21 of his allies a year ago, at the new government's request. Today, it removed four of them from its sanctions list and gave Ukraine three months to come up with credible evidence against three others. The government in Kiev does have its hands full: Its economy is collapsing, and the truce in the country's east remains unstable. Yet by neglecting to hunt the former officials, Ukraine is failing to seek closure. And it's giving Yanukovych and his cronies reason to raise their heads in hopes of vindication.