BRUSSELS -- The European Union on May 14 sanctioned five people who, according to the bloc, helped organize the Russian presidential election in the annexed Ukrainian region of Crimea in March.
The EU said the election was not legitimate and violated Ukraine's sovereignty. The five people sanctioned include Natalya Ivanovna Berzruchenko, who was the deputy chairwoman of the Crimea Electoral Commission, and the secretary of the commission, Inna Nikolayevna Guzeyeva.
The chairman of the Sevastopol Electoral Commission, Aleksandr Yurevich Petukhov, his deputy, Miroslav Aleksandrovich Pogorelov, and its secretary, Anastasiya Nikolayevna Karpranova, were also sanctioned.
All five people face visa bans and asset freezes in the EU. They were sanctioned for "actively supporting and implementing policies that undermine the territorial integrity, sovereignty, and independence of Ukraine," the European Council said in a statement.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Moscow "retains the right to react appropriately to the latest hostile step by the EU."
The anti-Russian sanctions "have turned into ritual demonstrations of 'solidarity' within the EU," Zakharova said.
"Their only practical result is the buildup of 'irritants,' hindering the establishment of mutually profitable dialogue and cooperation with Russia in the interests of our citizens," she said.
In previous rounds of sanctions, the EU has already frozen the assets of and slapped visa bans on 150 Russian officials and Moscow-backed separatists, as well as 38 entities that according to Brussels are responsible for actions violating Ukraine's territorial integrity.
The EU first imposed sanctions in March 2014 after Russia occupied and annexed Crimea. The sanctions have been periodically undated with new names and prolonged every six months, most recently in March.