The United States blacklisted five Russians, including Russia’s chief public investigator who is a close aide to President Vladimir Putin, for human rights abuses, media reported.
According to a report in the New York Times, the sanctions, announced on Monday by the Treasury Department, were not related to allegations of Russian hacking during the US presidential election.
The biggest name added to the list is that of Aleksandr I Bastrykin, who reports directly to Putin and has carried out political investigations on his behalf, said the report.
Bastrykin, officials said, was complicit in the case of Sergei L Magnitsky, an anti-corruption lawyer who mysteriously died in Russian detention in 2009 and after whom the Magnitsky Act was named by the US Congress.
The Obama administration has, till date, sanctioned 44 Russians under the Magnitsky Act. The sanctions announced include a ban on travel to the US and a freezing of any assets held by or transactions with American financial institutions.
In December, the Treasury Department had put sanctions on 15 Russian individuals and companies for their dealings in Crimea and Ukraine.
The upcoming Trump administration is widely expected to ease that campaign, said the New York Times.
On Monday, Kellyanne Conway, one of Trump’s top advisers, said that he might also relax the sanctions imposed by Obama in response to the hacking, which include travel bans and financial restrictions on senior Russian intelligence officials.
In addition to Bastrykin, the administration targeted Andrei K Lugovoi and Dmitri V Kovtun, two Russian intelligence officers who the British authorities said poisoned a fellow Russian spy, Alexander V Litvinenko, in London in 2006.
Also added to the list are Stanislav Gordievsky and Gennady Plaksin, two lower-level officials, who the US said were involved in the cover-up of Magnitsky’s death.