The Obama administration on Friday imposed sanctions on about two dozen Russians for human rights violations under a new law that has soured relations with Moscow,but it avoided targeting many high-level figures in President Vladimir Putins government.
The administration identified 18 Russians on an unclassified list of those who will be barred from travelling to the US and have their assets frozen. All but two of them are tied to the death of a lawyer,Sergei L Magnitsky,who was investigating official corruption only to be arrested and die in custody. Another smaller group is included on a classified list,officials said.
The administration was informing the Russian government and Congress about its decisions Friday. Under the human rights law passed in December,the administration had until Saturday to name officials to be penalized. But the timing is awkward,with the moves coming just days before President Obamas national security adviser,Thomas E Donilon,plans to travel to Moscow to explore next steps in a relationship that has turned rocky.
The pending sanctions irritated the Russian government,which responded to the passage of the original law by blocking Americans from adopting Russian orphans.
We will respond to it,and the US knows it, Sergey V Lavrov,Russian foreign minister,said at a news conference Friday.