US blacklists more Russians tied to whistleblower death

29th December 2014, Comments 0 comments

The US rolled out new sanctions against Russian officials Monday under its "Magnitsky" law, named after a Russian whistleblower who died in a Moscow prison in 2009.

The US Treasury Department added a deputy interior minister, an administrator for Chechnya and two other untitled individuals to the sanctions list, banning them from travel to the United States.

Any assets the individuals hold under US jurisdiction are liable to be frozen.

Two years after the enactment of a law that raised international tensions, the US State Department presented its annual report on the legislation to Congress on Monday.

The State Department's blacklist of Russian officials now includes 34 names, 16 of which were added last year, State Department spokesman Jeffrey Rathke said.

The sanctioned officials, Rathke said, are people the US believes were "involved in the criminal conspiracy uncovered by Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian lawyer who died of medical neglect."

A senior State Department official said the US will continue to add names to the Russian sanctions list.

"I can tell you that we are committed to continuing this process," the official said during a briefing.

Tax lawyer Magnitsky, who has become a symbol for the fight against corruption in Russia, died after being held for a year in pre-trial detention.

Also included on the sanctions list, which is maintained by the Treasury Department, are people believed to be responsible for Magnitsky's detention.

The list was last updated in May, when 12 names were added.

Magnitsky was arrested in 2008 after exposing a vast financial conspiracy by police and other officials at the expense of the Russian state.

Charged with tax evasion by the officials he denounced, Magnitsky died in a Moscow prison in late 2009 at the age of 37.

Years after his death, Magnitsky was convicted on financial charges by a Moscow court.

Russia responded to the Magnitsky sanctions with a list of its own, blacklisting US soldiers and officials allegedly involved in abuse at US military prisons.


© 2014 AFP

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