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/ Source: Reuters

VIENNA - Austria has frozen the local bank accounts of 18 Ukrainians suspected of potential human rights abuses in the country's political upheaval or of corruption, its foreign ministry said on Friday.

"The federal government is responding to a concrete request from the new Ukrainian government,'' Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz said in a statement to the Austria Press Agency.

A Foreign Ministry spokesman confirmed the decision to Reuters.

The step was a precautionary measure while the European Union discusses potential sanctions, Kurz added. The statement did not identify the people involved or say how much money had been seized.

- Reuters

Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz on Feb. 20.JULIEN WARNAND / EPA