Guardian Report: Mass civil legal action to seek compensation for Ukrainian war victims

The Guardian writes

Exclusive: Lawyers to target assets of Russian state, military contractors and affiliated business figures across globe

A consortium of Ukrainian and international lawyers is preparing to launch a mass civil legal action against the Russian state, as well as private military contractors and businesspeople backing the Russian war effort, in an attempt to gain financial compensation for millions of Ukrainian victims of the war, the Guardian can reveal.

The team, made up of hundreds of lawyers and several major law firms, plans to bring “multiple actions in different jurisdictions against different targets”, including the UK and the US, said Jason McCue, a London-based lawyer who is coordinating the initiative, in an interview in Kyiv.

The plan is to use UK and US judgments to seize Russian assets across the globe.

Targets are likely to include the Russian state and private military contractors such as the Wagner Group, which is believed to have been active in Ukraine. But McCue said they would also include business figures linked to these contractors, and to the Russian war effort more broadly. He believes that it will be possible to go after assets that have already been hit by sanctions as well as those that have not.

The class action will be a private case, independent of the Ukrainian state. But according to McCue, they will need access to Ukraine’s evidence and intelligence.

The Ukrainian MP and businessman Serhiy Taruta is supporting the initiative by facilitating meetings for the lawyers and investigators with Ukrainian officials.

Taruta, who is from Mariupol and had investments in the city, lost a large chunk of his business when Russia and its proxy forces took more than half of the Donbas region in 2014. This time he lost friends, colleagues and a cousin as Russia destroyed Mariupol while attempting to occupy it.

“Ukrainians have waited 20 years for the prosecution of [Pavlo] Lazarenko, and now eight for MH17,” said Taruta, referring to a case against Ukraine’s former prime minister who embezzled millions, and to an ongoing case in The Hague over the downing of a Malaysian Airlines flight in 2014.

“We need to develop a quicker mechanism [for compensation],” said Taruta. “The normal routes are too slow.”