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Stessl proposes bank freeze for Ukrainian oligarchs

Austrian bank accounts owned by Ukrainian oligarchs who support those authorising the violence in Kiev could be frozen, Austria's secretary state for finance has proposed.

"That would be a political signal to support Ukraine's democratic movement," said Sonja Stessl (SPOe).

Austria has also stressed its support for sanctions against the Ukraine, where at least 25 people have now died in violence between pro-Europe protesters and the police.

Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz has emphasised that violence must not go unpunished. "Europe must not look away when people are being shot in its own backyard," he said yesterday.

The statements follow those made earlier in February by German MEP Rebecca Harms (Green) who said that journalists investigating the issue of Austrian passports presume that some Ukrainian politicians, or members of their families, could have Austrian passports or longer term residence permits.

The Ukrainian leaders named by Rebecca Harms included  Ukraine's interim Prime Minister Serhiv Arbuzov, former Prime Minister Mykola Azarov and the man expected to be named as the next Prime Minister Andriy Klyuyev.

An official request has been placed with the Austrian government to investigate if some of the Ukrainian leaders do have Austrian passports.

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