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Estonian President signs law on transfer of Russian assets to Ukraine, but not without caveats

Estonian President signs law on transfer of Russian assets to Ukraine, but not without caveats Estonian President Alar Karis (Photo: Getty Images)

Estonian President Alar Karis has signed a law on transferring Russian assets to Ukraine, but with certain nuances.

According to Karis, under the law, only the property of those "whose connection to the commission or facilitation of an unlawful act has been established and sufficiently proven" can be confiscated and used for compensation.

"Therefore, the fact that someone's assets have been frozen due to international sanctions is not sufficient grounds for the expropriation of property," Karis said.

The President of Estonia added that the adopted law should be interpreted to mean that the transfer of property applies to those who actively participated in military aggression or violated the norms of warfare.

President Karis has acknowledged that the confiscation of property in connection with participation in military aggression may raise unresolved legal issues. However, he emphasized that 'the parliament must have the opportunity to make a political choice even in such an unclear situation ', underlining the democratic process at play.

"Regardless of what can be thought about the chosen solution in Estonia, there is no doubt that we must find effective ways to ensure the right of victims of aggression to receive compensation from those responsible for causing the damage," Karis concluded.

Confiscation of Russian assets

The law was passed by the Estonian parliament (Riigikogu) on May 15 with 65 votes in favor. It allows Russia to use the frozen assets of individuals and businesses that facilitated its unlawful activities as compensation for the damage it has to reimburse Ukraine.

At the end of May, the EU Council adopted several legislative acts ensuring that the net profit from frozen Russian assets would be used for further military support of Ukraine and to strengthen its defense capacity and reconstruction.

As a reminder, assets of the Central Bank of Russia frozen in various Western jurisdictions amount to more than $300 billion. The assets "frozen" in France alone would be enough, for instance, to build a new hydroelectric power plant to replace the Kakhovka plant.