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U.S. Treasury Sanctions 12 More Russians Under 'Magnitsky Act'

Lawyer Sergei Magnitsky died in Russian police custody
Lawyer Sergei Magnitsky died in Russian police custody
The U.S. Treasury has announced sanctions against 12 more Russians for alleged human rights abuses, including prison officials who allegedly withheld medical care from a man who uncovered tax fraud in Russia.

The visa bans and sanctions under the so-called "Magnitsky Act" freeze any U.S. assets of individuals accused by Washington in the 2009 prison death of whistle-blowing Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, as well as other as well as other human rights abuses.

The list published on May 20 includes four Russian prison officials, a judge, a court official, a law-enforcement investigator, and alleged co-conspirators in the Russian fraud case.

Those alleged co-conspirators are said to have been involved in a massive tax fraud in Russia that Magnitsky disclosed prior to his death.

Most added to the blacklist are accused by Magnitsky's supporters of complicity in his arrest and subsequent death while in pretrial detention at a Moscow prison in November 2009.

The judge named on May 20 was involved in the criminal proceedings against Magnitsky.

Russian prison officials on the expanded list include medical personnel who treated Magnitsky in prison.

On the list is Dr. Dmitry Kratov, who was charged with negligence in connection with Magnitsky's death but was acquitted last December by a Russian court.

The expanded sanctions list does not include a top Russian law-enforcement official that senior U.S. lawmakers had tried to get included.

Proponents of the Magnitsky Act had called for Russian Investigative Committee head Aleksandr Bastrykin to be sanctioned under the 2012 law.

It was not immediately clear if Bastrykin has been included on a separate list that is classified due to national security concerns.

In fact, no senior Russian officials were included on the U.S. Treasury Department's newly published blacklist.

But the new sanctions do target a man who was charged – and then acquitted by a Russian court – in the murder of U.S. journalist Paul Klebnikov, who was gunned down in Moscow in 2004.

A total of 30 Russians have now been sanctioned under the Magnitsky Act– including individuals whose names have not been publicly disclosed.

Magnitsky's friends and family say he was jailed, tortured, and denied medical treatment that could have saved his life as retribution for accusing law enforcement and tax officials of stealing $230 million from Russian coffers.

Magnitsky's employer, U.S.-born British investor Bill Browder, told RFE/RL that he is generally satisfied with the new designations.

Browder said the announcement demonstrates more sanctions are imminent under the law.

Backers of the law had hoped the Obama administration's decision to impose sanctions against senior officials close to President Vladimir Putin over Russia's involvement in Ukraine would also lead the administration to use the Magnitsky Act against powerful figures in Moscow.

Republican U.S. Senator John McCain told RFE/RL on May 20 that the list was "an improvement" but "they've still got a long way to go."

When asked about the omission of Bastrykin from the newly published list, McCain said he was "disappointed" because "it's not nearly the number of people that we had wanted."

Obama signed the Magnitsky Act in December 2012 after his administration initially opposed it, citing existing levers to keep Russian rights abusers out of the United States.

The law has infuriated the Russian government, which calls it an unacceptable intrusion into Russia's internal affairs.

Last year, the Kremlin responded by banning U.S. citizens from adopting Russian children, sparking a further deterioration of already strained ties between the two countries.

Russia also issued a reciprocal blacklist targeting 18 U.S. officials that the Kremlin accuses of rights violations.

With reporting by Reuters and AP
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