WASHINGTON -- The United States has added five more Russians to its so-called “Magnitsky List,” which sanctions alleged human rights abusers that have been linked to the death of whistle-blowing Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky and other violations.
The Treasury Department released the additional names on February 1, bringing to 39 the total number of people publicly sanctioned under the congressional legislation.
One new name on the blacklist is Aleksei Anichin, a deputy interior minister linked to Magnitsky’s death who was later fired from his post by then-President Dmitry Medvedev.
Another is Boris Kibis, an outside investigator who concluded that Magnitsky had not been tortured or mistreated.
Another on the updated list is Pavel Lapshov, the head of the Interior Ministry’s investigative department who asserted publicly that Magnitsky’s employer, Hermitage Capital Management, was behind the tax fraud he had uncovered. Lapshov later appeared to recant that assertion.
At the time the law was passed in 2012, Moscow and Washington were trying to reset relations that had been poisoned by Russia’s 2008 war in Georgia and other international disagreements.
The Magnitsky List was met with bitter denunciations by Russia and marked the beginning of a spiral that has sent bilateral ties to lows not seen since the Cold War.
Moscow issued its own blacklist of U.S. officials it claims have been complicit in rights abuses.
Magnitsky was working as a tax lawyer for Hermitage, a Western-owned portfolio investment company with major holdings in Russia, when he discovered an audacious and highly complex $230 million fraud scheme involving shell companies and bogus tax refunds.
He was later arrested by Russian law enforcement, charged with similar fraud charges, and jailed in a notorious Moscow prison.
His supporters said he was tortured and denied medical treatment, leading to his death in 2009, a finding supported by a presidentially appointed human rights council.
A Moscow court tried Magnitsky posthumously in 2013 and found him guilty on tax evasion charges.
Most of those on the list either are tied to the tax fraud that Magnitsky uncovered or to the prison where he was held. Some already had been blacklisted by the European Union under a similar sanctions list.
The 2012 law provides for a public list of sanctioned individuals, as well as a classified list that reportedly includes Ramzan Kadyrov, the strongman leader of Russia's restive Chechnya region.
Rights groups have long accused Kadyrov of abuses that include torture and extrajudicial killings.
The Obama administration also has sanctioned a wide range of senior Russian government and military officials for their role in Russia’s 2014 annexation of the Ukrainian Black Sea peninsula of Crimea and the Kremlin's support for pro-Russian separatists that are fighting government forces in eastern Ukraine.