EU sanctions will be challenged in court

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April 22, 2016 17:50

The authorities aim to use the vulnerability of the EU “black list” i.e. its bias and lack of transparency of its compilation. They will use the suits filed by Peftiev to accuse the EU Council of injustice and politicized attitude and exploit these allegations for propaganda purposes in the future.

On 18 October it has been made public that on 12 August a Belarusian businessman Vladimir Peftiev filed four suits against the Council of the European Union concerning the economic sanctions introduced against him. A Lithuanian law firm LAWIN provides legal services to the businessman.

Comment

The authorities aim to use the vulnerability of the EU “black list” i.e. its bias and lack of transparency of its compilation. They will use the suits filed by Peftiev to accuse the EU Council of injustice and politicized attitude and exploit these allegations for propaganda purposes in the future.

By challenging the EU Council decision, Minsk predictably takes a position of the wrongly accused and starts a counter-attack. Thereby the Belarusian authorities hope to demonstrate that the decision to impose sanctions was opportunistic, lobbied by individual politicians (mainly Polish and German). Along with Peftiev a similar lawsuit has been filed by a former Deputy Editor of the largest state owned newspaper “SB Belarus Segodnia” Anna Shadrina, who also found herself on the EU visa “black list”.

The most likely result of the trial would be a sort of compromise: Mr. Peftiev would withdraw his claims in exchange for compliance by the EU with his business interests.

Belarusian side is convinced that the trial of the case of Peftiev will put the defendant in a difficult position, since the latter will have to provide with a legal justification for imposing the economic sanctions, particularly bearing in mind their explicitly political nature. Moreover, Belarus hopes that in the course of the trial Brussels will be obliged to disclose the principle of compilation of the “black list” and question its objectivity.

 In 2010 Forbes Magazine estimated Peftiev’s fortune at roughly $1 billion.

Belarus believes the names of authors of the “black lists” will be disclosed during the trial and this information will be used as a lever to pressure the EU. On the other hand, the trial could result in the disclosure of the financial schemes of the family of President Lukashenko, i.e. the main reason of the introduced economic sanctions. However such outcome is highly unlikely, provided that making this information public could do a lot of damage to both Minsk and its business partners abroad. The most likely result of the trial would be a sort of compromise: Mr. Peftiev would withdraw his claims in exchange for compliance by the EU with his business interests.

For reference

On 20 June the EU Council for the first time imposed the economic sanctions against Belarusian business by freezing the European assets of 3 companies of Mr. Peftiev, based on the suspicion of their involvement in financial schemes of the family of Lukashenko. Mr. Peftiev is the wealthiest businessman in Belarus and his business interests are wide-spread from arms trade (a company “Beltechexport”) to lottery business (“Sportpari”) and telecommunications (Internet service provider “Business Network”). In 2010 Forbes Magazine estimated Peftiev’s fortune at roughly $1 billion.

 

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