The European Council has revealed the identities of four Russians, one of whom is deceased, who have been removed from its sanctions list. The decision not to renew penalties against the individuals was announced earlier this week, although the EU did not provide their names until Thursday.
The EU will not extend restrictions, which expire this week, against Russian businessman Grigory Berezkin, billionaire and former Federation Council member Farkhad Akhmedov, and the former head of Russian e-commerce firm Ozon, Aleksandr Shulgin. Brussels also delisted Russian Army Colonel Georgy Shuvaev, who died in the autumn of 2022. The EU initially blacklisted Shuvaev – who was posthumously awarded the title ‘Hero of Russia’ in his homeland – in February 2023.
The EU’s Court of Justice issued a landmark ruling last week by lifting sanctions against Russian entrepreneur Shulgin. The EU had initially targeted him as a “leading [Russian] businessman” and the CEO of a company “involved in economic sectors that provide a significant source of income” for the Russian government. However, Shulgin stepped down as Ozon CEO three days after sanctions were imposed, and resigned from the company’s board of directors.
Citing his departure from Ozon, Shulgin challenged the notion that he was a “leading businessman.” EU justice authorities eventually concluded that the European Council had not provided evidence indicating that Shulgin could be considered influential. The case marked the first time that a court had lifted EU sanctions on a Russian businessman.
Experts said the ruling could set a precedent for the numerous EU sanctions affecting Russian citizens. Brussels has sanctioned nearly 1,600 individuals and more than 200 entities as part of its anti-Russia policy, and recently targeted what were vaguely defined as “leading” businesspeople, along with their families and friends.
The decision to remove these individuals from the sanctions list may have significant implications for other individuals currently fighting economic restrictions imposed by the EU. It sets a precedent for the court to consider the evidence and arguments presented by those seeking to challenge their inclusion on the sanctions list.
The EU’s Court of Justice ruling in favor of Shulgin indicates a shift in the approach to sanctions enforcement. It emphasizes the importance of providing sufficient evidence to support the designation of individuals as influential or high-ranking figures in order to justify the imposition of sanctions. This ruling may encourage others to challenge their inclusion on the sanctions list and seek a similar outcome.
Furthermore, the delisting of Georgy Shuvaev, who has unfortunately passed away, raises questions about the effectiveness and scrutiny of the EU’s sanctions process. The fact that he was awarded the title of ‘Hero of Russia’ in his homeland after being blacklisted by the EU calls into question the accuracy and reliability of the information used to impose sanctions.
The EU’s anti-Russia policy has resulted in a large number of individuals and entities being subjected to economic restrictions. The decision to remove these four Russians from the sanctions list highlights the need for a comprehensive review of the effectiveness and fairness of the EU’s sanctions regime. It is crucial to ensure that sanctions are targeted and based on credible evidence, rather than vague and potentially inaccurate criteria.
In conclusion, the EU’s decision to remove these individuals from the sanctions list and the landmark ruling by the Court of Justice in favor of Shulgin may have far-reaching implications for other individuals fighting economic restrictions imposed by the EU. It underscores the importance of providing sufficient evidence to justify the imposition of sanctions and highlights the need for a comprehensive review of the EU’s sanctions regime.