BRUSSELS: The European Union lifted sanctions on Friday against four Ukrainians including the son of a former premier, while extending measures against ousted president Viktor Yanukovych and 14 others for a year.
Brussels ended the travel ban and asset freeze imposed one year ago on Oleksii Azarov, the son of ex-prime minister Mykola Azarov, although his father remains on the list, according to the EU official journal.
Ex-Ukrainian government security chief Oleksandr Yakymenko, and former Yanukovych advisers Andriy Portnov and Ihor Kalinin have also been freed from the sanctions, which were imposed in March 2014 by the 28-nation bloc.
A European Commission spokeswoman declined to give any details on ending the penalties at a daily briefing Friday.
The EU said in a statement it had extended sanctions on Yanukovych himself — who remains in exile in Russia following his downfall in February 2014 — for one year “subject to initial investigations on the embezzlement of Ukrainian state funds”.
It continued penalties against 14 other people for a year including Yanukovych’s son Oleksandr, 41, according to the EU official journal.
Sanctions were also extended for three months against four people including the former president’s 38-year-old son, who is also named Viktor.
The EU has slapped targeted penalties on around 150 Russian, Ukrainian and Crimean people since the start of the Ukraine crisis.
Additionally, it imposed tougher economic sanctions on Russia after Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over rebel-held eastern Ukraine in July 2014.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned on Wednesday of fresh sanctions if there are major violations of the latest ceasefire between Kiev’s troops and the pro-Kremlin rebels agreed last month.
The issue is set to come up at a European summit in Brussels on March 19, but there are deep divisions within the EU about how far to push Russia, especially when the bloc’s own economy is affected.