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EU Freezes Assets of 18 Ukrainians in Misuse of State Funds

The European Union says it is freezing the financial assets in Europe of 18 Ukrainians it says misused the Kyiv government's state funds.

The EU's foreign ministers approved the list Wednesday but withheld the names for a day before their official publication in the EU's legal journal, so the Ukrainians would not have a last chance to withdraw their assets. The sanctions will be effective for a year.

Sources report that ousted Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych could be on the EU list. Switzerland and Liechtenstein, two European nations outside the group of 28 EU countries, had already frozen his assets in their countries, along with the holdings of 19 other Ukrainian officials.

The EU officials said they hope to recover the assets and return the money to Ukraine's new government.

Meanwhile, the EU's executive arm said it has agreed on a $15 billion package of loans and grants for the debt-ridden Ukraine government.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said the money is designed to "assist a committed, inclusive and reforms-oriented Ukrainian government.''

He said Ukraine's standoff with Russia in the Crimean peninsula has "shocked us all and reminded us that principles that we cherish, like peace, cannot be taken for granted."

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