EU court judges: mother of Wagner boss wrongly sanctioned

Status: 03/08/2023 1:53 p.m

Is the EU wrongly imposing sanctions on family members of the boss of the Russian Wagner mercenaries? The General Court of the European Union has now passed a judgment on this question. It concerns the mother of Yevgeny Prigozhin.

The General Court of the European Union has annulled EU sanctions against Violetta Prigozhina. As the court in Luxembourg announced, a family relationship is not enough to justify punitive measures against them. Prigozhina is the mother of the head of the Russian private army Wagner, Yevgeny Prigozhin. At the time the sanctions were imposed, she was obviously not the owner of companies with ties to her son, as claimed by the EU.

On February 23, 2022, the EU states put Prigozchina on their sanctions list in connection with the war against Ukraine because they believed that Prigozchina – like their son – “supports actions and political strategies that protect the territorial integrity, sovereignty and undermine Ukraine’s independence”. On the other hand, the mother of the boss of the so-called Wagner Group filed a lawsuit in April. Sanctions were also imposed on Prigozhin himself.

Prigozchina’s lawyer accuses the EU of factual errors

Prigozchina’s lawyer argued, among other things, that the EU had disregarded the obligation to justify the sanctions decision and had made factual errors. According to the lawsuit, Prigozhina denied owning two companies founded by her son. She also argued that her ties with her son did not imply that she had in any way compromised the territorial integrity of Ukraine. The actual goal of the sanction is to indirectly hit her son.

Prigozhin has been described by the EU as a “prominent Russian businessman with close ties to President (Vladimir) Putin and the Russian Defense Ministry” and blamed for dispatching Wagner Group mercenaries to Ukraine. Prigozhin is also accused of profiting from Russian decision-makers responsible for the annexation of Crimea and the destabilization of eastern Ukraine.

Wagner’s private army is notorious in Ukraine because it also recruited convicted prisoners and is said to act without regard for the casualties. In Ukraine, mercenaries are currently fighting alongside regular Russian soldiers for control of the eastern city of Bakhmut.

Further sanctions decision conceivable

The Council of Member States can still appeal the judgment in the case of Prigozhin’s mother before the European Court of Justice. It is also conceivable that the member states will quickly adopt a new, better justified sanctions decision.

The General Court of the European Union is an independent European court that is subordinate to the European Court of Justice and together with it forms the Court of Justice of the European Union.

EU sanctions against mother of Wagner boss void

Max Bauer, SWR, March 8, 2023 1:55 p.m

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