US targets Russians for Ukraine invasion, human rights abuses

The Russian and US flags are pictured ahead of talks between Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov and US Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman at the US mission in Geneva, Switzerland, January 10, 2022. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

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WASHINGTON, March 15 (Reuters) – The United States on Tuesday imposed sanctions on Russian military leaders and people they accuse of being linked to human rights abuses, while imposing new measures on the close Moscow’s ally, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.

They were the last sanctions imposed on Moscow since Russian forces invaded Ukraine nearly three weeks ago in the biggest assault on a European state since World War II. Moscow calls the assault a “special operation”.

The US State Department announced the sanctions against 11 Russian military leaders, including several deputy defense ministers and Viktor Zolotov, head of Russia’s national guard and member of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s security council.

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Sanctions freeze any US assets the targeted individuals may have and generally prevent Americans from doing business with them.

The US Treasury Department has announced sanctions against four Russians and an entity it accuses of playing a role in covering up events surrounding the death of whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky or being linked to violations of human rights against human rights defender Oyub Titiev.

A Treasury statement said it was adding to its sanctions against Lukashenko and also targeting his wife.

Andrea Gacki, head of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, said in the statement that his sanctions were the consequences for those involved in corruption or related to gross human rights abuses.

“We condemn Russia’s attacks on humanitarian corridors in Ukraine and call on Russia to end its unprovoked and brutal war against Ukraine,” she said.

Magnitsky was a Russian lawyer arrested in 2008 after alleging Russian officials were involved in large-scale tax evasion. Magnitsky died in a Moscow prison in 2009 after complaining of mistreatment.

Tuesday’s measures targeted Judge Natalia Mushnikova, accused by the Treasury of “participating in efforts to conceal legal responsibility for the detention, abuse or death” of Magnitsky.

Sanctions were also imposed on the Kurchaloi district of the Chechen Republic branch of the Russian Federation’s Interior Ministry, whose officers arrested Titiev in 2018 and charged him with drug possession.

Among those sanctioned are Nurid Salamov, the investigator who opened the case against Titiev; Khusein Khutaev, the officer who allegedly spotted drugs in Titiev’s car; and Dzhabrail Akhmatov, who, according to the Treasury, decided to press charges against Titiev.

Titiev, director of the Memorial human rights center in Chechnya, was arrested and charged with possession of illegal drugs in 2018. Titiev said police planted drugs on him during a shake-down. He was sentenced to 4 years in a penal colony.

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Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis and Simon Lewis; Editing by Howard Goller

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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