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US should enforce sanctions against Medvedchuk — Ukrainian civil society organizations

8 February 2021
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The following is an open letter by the Anti-Corruption Action Center in Kyiv and a coalition of 17 prominent Ukrainian civil society organizations.

The Honorable Janet Yellen

Secretary of Treasury

U.S. Department of Treasury

1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20220

The Honorable Antony Blinken

Secretary of State

U.S. Department of State

2201 C St. N.W.

Washington, D.C., 20520

Dear Secretary Yellen and Secretary Blinken,

The Anti-Corruption Action Center, a Ukrainian civil society organization aimed at tackling political corruption, in coalition with 17 prominent Ukrainian civil society organizations, would like to express our sincere respect and gratitude for your support of Ukraine in our fight against Russian aggression. With this letter, we would like to raise our concern over the alleged violation of the US sanctions regime committed by the pro-Russian politician Viktor Medvedchuk, his close associates, and companies under his control. Thus, we would like to raise your awareness of the following facts:

(1) Viktor Mevedchuk is a Ukrainian politician, a member of parliament; he is a close friend of the President of Russia Vladimir Putin, and openly works for Russian interests. In Ukraine, Viktor Medvedchuk employs his political position and close ties to Ukrainian oligarchs to act as an intermediary to enforce the Russian policy agenda. His business receives significant support and funding from the Russian government. Prior to Feb. 3, 2021, he controlled a significant share of the media market in Ukraine. His media companies are used as tools of hybrid warfare against Ukraine for spreading disinformation and Russian propaganda, particularly targeting Ukraine’s cooperation with Western countries, especially with the United States of America. The actions of Viktor Medvedchuk impose a threat to the independence and sovereignty of Ukraine; they are hampering strategic cooperation between Ukraine and the US.

(2) On March 6, 2014, the US imposed sanctions on Viktor Medvedchuk for  “his role in actions or policies that threaten the peace, security, stability, sovereignty, or territorial integrity of Ukraine” as well as his role in “actions or policies that undermine democratic processes or institutions in Ukraine.”

(3) On Feb. 2, 2021, Ukraine imposed sanctions on a long-time associate of Viktor Medvedchuk, Taras Kozak, for financing terrorism in the form of illegal coal trading operations in favor of terrorist organizations functioning on the Russia-occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine. It is believed that Taras Kozak does not have an independent business, but is holding assets in the name of Viktor Medvedchuk. Through Taras Kozak, Medvedchuk controls at least three national news channels in Ukraine: 112 Ukraine, NewsOne and ZIK TV channels. All three TV channels are known for spreading misinformation, for violating standards of journalism, for undermining Ukrainian democratic institutions, and for spreading pro-Russian and anti-Western propaganda.

(4) Since 2014, Viktor Medvedchuk has attempted to bypass US sanctions while conducting all of his financial operations through companies registered in the name of his wife Oksana Marchenko, or associates and proxies such as Taras Kozak. For instance, the investigative journalists from Radio Free Europe reported that companies associated with Medvedchuk have been involved in selling Russian oil products to the US corporation ExxonMobil. The estimated annual income of such operations is approx. $150 million. AntAC has made respective filings to OFAC in 2018 and 2020 (https://antac.org.ua/en/news/antac-appeals-to-ofac-to-extend-sanctions-regarding-viktor-medvedchuk/)

(5) We believe that Viktor Medvedchuk knowingly bypassed the sanctions imposed by the US Government. By doing this, he not only gained significant profits, but also undermined the authority of the US sanctions regime by showing that sanctions are not an obstacle for running a business and conducting successful operations with US entities.

Therefore, we ask you to ensure enforcement of the US sanctions against Viktor Medvedchuk by including his wife Oksana Marchenko, his close associate Taras Kozak, as well as companies controlled by these individuals to the OFAC list. This will significantly weaken Russian agents in Ukraine by stopping the flow of dirty Russian money to their destructive projects and anti-democracy propaganda outlets.

Sincerely,

Coalition of Ukrainian Civil Society Organizations:

Anti-Corruption Action Centre (www.antac.org.ua)

Transparency International Ukraine (ti-ukraine.org/en)

ANTS Network (www.ants.org.ua)

Center for Global Studies “Strategy XXI” (www.geostrategy.org.ua)

AllUkrainian Association “Automaidan” (www.automaidan.org.ua)

Centre for Economic Strategy (www.ces.org.ua/en)

DEJURE Foundation (en.dejure.foundation/)

Center for Social and Economic Research – CASE Ukraine (case-ukraine.com.ua)

Kharkiv Anticorruption Center (www.anticor-kharkiv.org)

StateWatch (www.statewatch.org.ua)

Institute of Legislative Ideas (izi.institute)

NGO Anti-Corruption Research and Educational Center (www.acrec.org.ua/en/)

Center for public monitoring and research (www.gmd.center)

CHESNO Movement (chesno.org)

Institute of Mass Information (imi.org.ua)

Bihus.Info (bihus.info)

Detector Media (detector.media)

Save Protasiv Yar NGO

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