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Moscow Angered Over U.S. Blacklisting Of Singer

Russian singer Grigory Leps

Russian singer Grigory Leps

Russia's Foreign Ministry has demanded the United States explain why it blacklisted a popular Russian singer and supporter of President Vladimir Putin.

The U.S. Treasury Department this week named Grigory Lepsveridze, better known as Grigory Leps, as one of six people it said were linked to a "Eurasian crime syndicate" called the Brothers' Circle.

The Treasury added him to its list of blacklisted people, meaning U.S. citizens were barred from doing business with him, and any assets he had in the United States were frozen.

Russia's Foreign Ministry on October 31 said Washington's accusation broke "the fundamental principle of presumption of innocence."

Konstantin Dolgov, the ministry's human rights commissioner, said Moscow expected Washington "to provide detailed explanations."

Leps dismissed the allegation, writing on his website that the accusations sounded like "raving" to him.

"I don't understand, which sanctions are threatening me?" he said on his website. "If they bar my entry, well, America is a great country, but I will live through it."

Based on Interfax and Reuters reporting