U.S. targets Russians over Ukraine invasion, human rights violations

WASHINGTON, March 15 (Reuters) – The United States on Tuesday imposed sanctions on Russian military leaders and people he accused of being connected to human rights violations while slapping fresh measures on Moscow’s close ally Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko.

They were the latest sanctions imposed on Moscow since Russian forces invaded Ukraine nearly three weeks ago in the biggest assault on a European state since World War Two. Moscow calls the assault a “special operation.”

The US State Department announced the sanctions on 11 Russian military leaders, including several deputy ministers of defense and Viktor Zolotov, chief of Russia’s national guard and a member of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s security council.

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The sanctions freeze any US assets those targeted may have and generally bars Americans from dealing with them.

The US Treasury Department announced sanctions on four Russians and one entity it accused of playing a role in concealing events around the death of whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky or of being connected to human rights violations against human rights advocate Oyub Titiev.

A Treasury statement said it was adding to its sanctions against Lukashenko and also targeting his wife.

Andrea Gacki, the head of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, said in the statement its sanctions were the consequences for people engaged in corruption or connected to gross violations of human rights.

“We condemn Russia’s attacks on humanitarian corridors in Ukraine and call on Russia to cease its unprovoked and brutal war against Ukraine,” she said.

Magnitsky was a Russian lawyer arrested in 2008 after alleging that Russian officials were involved in large-scale tax fraud. Magnitsky died in a Moscow prison in 2009 after complaining of mistreatment.

Tuesday’s measures targeted Judge Natalia Mushnikova, accused by Treasury of “participating in efforts to conceal the legal liability for the detention, abuse, or death” of Magnitsky.

Sanctions were also imposed on the Kurchaloi District of the Chechen Republic Branch of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation, whose officers arrested Titiev in 2018 and charged him with possession of drugs.

Those sanctioned include Nurid Salamov, the investigator who opened the case against Titiev; Khusein Khutaev, the officer who allegedly spotted drugs in Titiev’s car; and Dzhabrail Akhmatov, who the Treasury said decided to bring charges against Titiev.

Titiev, head of the Memorial human rights center in Chechnya, was detained and accused of possessing illegal drugs in 2018. Titiev said the police had planted the drugs on him during a shake-down. He was sentenced to 4 years in a penal colony.

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Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis and Simon Lewis; Editing by Howard Goller

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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