BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union has imposed sanctions on the organizers of rebel elections in eastern Ukraine this month, the bloc said on Saturday, hitting the separatists and their organizations with asset freezes and travel bans.
As reporting by Reuters on Thursday, EU governments decided to add 13 Ukrainian separatists and five of their political organizations to a sanctions list that already covers 119 people and 23 entities.
Rebels in eastern Ukraine held their elections on Nov. 2, arguing that the vote was the next step after local referendums in May calling for independence from Ukraine.
The United States and European Union have denounced the vote as illegitimate, but Russia has said it would recognize the result, deepening a crisis that began with the popular overthrow of Ukraine’s Moscow-backed president in February and Russia’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula in March.
In its official journal, the European Union said Sergey Kozyakov, who was election commission chief in the Luhansk region, was “responsible for organizing the so-called elections ... in the so-called Luhansk People’s Republic”.
“He has actively supported actions and policies which undermine the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine,” the bloc said.
Others on the sanctions list are election organizers and separatist ministers in Luhansk and in the eastern region of Donetsk. They are accused of the same wrongdoing as Kozyakov.
The sanctions are the European Union’s latest step in attempts to pressure Russia to halt its support for the rebels. They follow economic sanctions imposed on Russia in July.
EU governments are also discussing proposals for an “enhanced ban” on investments in Crimea.
Reporting by Robin Emmott; Editing by Pravin Char