Russia has threatened to respond with reciprocal measures to British sanctions against more than two dozen Russian citizens in connection with the mistreatment and death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in 2009.
"We can only regret such unfriendly measures," Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters on July 7, adding that "obviously the principle of reciprocity will be applied."
Peskov did not elaborate on what retaliatory measures could be taken.
His comments come a day after London said it was imposing sanctions on dozens of people and organizations behind the most "notorious" human rights abuses of recent years – the first such move taken independently by Britain outside the auspices of the UN and European Union, which the country left earlier this year.
Twenty-five Russians implicated in the death of Magnitsky, who died in Russian custody after uncovering widespread tax fraud by a group of Russian officials, will have their British assets frozen and banned from entering the country.
'Thugs Of Despots'
The sanctions list includes top officials from Russia’s Prosecutor General’s Office and Investigative Committee, as well as judges.
Those targeted also included Saudi nationals involved in the death of a journalist in Istanbul, Burmese military generals implicated in violence against ethnic minorities, and North Korean organizations involved in forced labor, torture, and killings.
Addressing parliament, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said Britain was taking action against the "thugs of despots and henchmen of dictators" as the laundering of "blood money.”
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo backed Britain’s new sanctions regime, saying in a statement that it "marks the beginning of a new era for U.K. sanctions policy and cooperation between our two democracies."
The United States passed the Magnitsky Act in 2012, imposing sanctions on many Russian officials, and widened it in 2016 to include individuals from other nations.