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UK Supreme Court says case of 'Yanukovych's debt' should be sent to trial
The U.K. Supreme Court has decided that the case regarding Ukraine's $3 billion Eurobond debt to Russia should be sent to trial and should be heard publicly, the Ukrainian Finance Ministry reported on March 15.
Kyiv claims that the government of ousted president Viktor Yanukovych had agreed to issue the Eurobonds in 2013 under coercion carried out by Moscow. Ukraine argues that it is not obliged to repay the debt, while Russia is seeking to get the money back.
As a result of the Supreme Court's March 15 decision, these arguments will be "properly investigated with an examination of all the evidence," the ministry wrote. Until the court's final decision, Kyiv will be exempted from making the debt payments, according to online newspaper Ukrainska Pravda.
Russia tried to convince the U.K. court to apply a fast procedure and thereby avoid a detailed investigation of Moscow's actions, but the court rejected its request.
"By making this landmark decision more than seven years after Russia filed a lawsuit against Ukraine, the Supreme Court, the highest court in the U.K.'s court system, supported Ukraine's position, which it has been voicing for many years in a row," reads the ministry's press release.
Ukraine's Finance Ministry cited Judge Blair, who said Kyiv's defense position regarding coercion "is unequivocally strong" and "Russia's threats to use force in 2013 should be considered in the context of the actual use of force in 2014."
The Supreme Court hasn't reviewed the facts of Russia's illegal war against Ukraine at this stage since the appeal took place before Russia's full-scale invasion in February 2022. However, judge Lord Carnwath said that Moscow's subsequent actions could not be ignored.
"Now Russia has the burden of proving to the court that the threats towards Ukraine did not influence Ukraine's decision to issue Eurobonds, which were later used by Russia as one of the weapons against Ukraine," the ministry added. "The Supreme Court noted that Ukraine would succeed in this case, unless the contrary is proven, that Russian pressure did not play any role in Ukraine's decision to issue Eurobonds."
Yanukovych fled to Russia in the wake of the 2014 EuroMaidan Revolution, and Russian dictator Vladimir Putin later admitted that Moscow helped him to escape. In 2019 Kyiv's Obolon district court sentenced Yanukovych to 13 years in prison and found nim guilty of high treason and helping Russia to illegally annex Crimea.