USA sanctions Russian officials over dissident deaths

Russia's Investigative Committee chief Alexander Bastrykin during his meeting with President Dmitry Medvedev at the Gorki residence outside Moscow

The U.S. Treasury Department said on Monday it had added seven people to its list of those subject to its counter terrorism blacklist, including five from Russian Federation and one each from Lebanon and Iran.

The target list now includes 44 names of those whose assets under United States jurisdiction are frozen, and who are barred from doing business with Americans or receiving USA visas. "It is clearly designed for political effects".

The Magnitsky Act was passed in 2012 to bar Russian officials responsible for committing human rights abuses from entering the USA and gaining access to its financial market. Conway said that Trump could well "reconsider" any sanctions in the name of proportionality.

"We're going to introduce sanctions that. will hit them in the financial sector and the energy sector, where they're the weakest", Graham told USA television network NBC.

"They are amateurish and are hardly worthy of the high professional standards of top intelligence agencies, " Peskov said.

Litvinenko fled Russian Federation for Britain, where he was poisoned after drinking green tea laced with a rare but potent radioactive isotope at a London Hotel.

Lugovoi, a member of Russia's lower house of parliament, has denied the charge, which is based in part on still classified evidence gathered by the British security services.

Gennady Plaksin, former head of the Universal Savings Bank and Stanislav Gordiyevsky, former investigative agency official are the other two targets who both are said to be involved in covering up Magnitsky's death.

The Obama administration has enforced the law with varying degrees of enthusiasm, depending on the state of relations between the United States and Russian Federation.

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In order to comply with federal ethics laws and after consulting the Office of Government Ethics, Kushner will take a number of steps to divest substantial assets, Gorelick said.

"We are convinced that this does not coincide with our interests or that of Washington".

"This includes pressing for diplomatic solutions to the crises in Syria and eastern Ukraine", he added.

The Magnitsky Act was passed in 2012 and created to punish officials responsible for human rights abuses, notably the 2009 death in prison of whisteblowing lawyer Sergei Magnitsky. Kellyanne Conway, who led Trump's presidential campaign, made the remarks on Monday night, when answering a question by USA Today on whether Trump would review any of Obama's "steps" against Russian Federation. Trump has also expressed doubt over the CIA's conclusions on Russia's election meddling, alleging the agency was behind a "witch hunt" to tarnish his win. "Considering how many years have passed since the making of the so-called Magnitsky List, what could I do in the past year, or two, or three, or four?" he noted.

There was no immediate comment from the Russian government.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he had hope ties would improve "soon".

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange calls it a politically motivated "press release".

The United States on Monday blacklisted Russian President Vladimir Putin's reputed top enforcer and the prime suspects in the murder of ex-spy Alexander Litvinenko in London a decade ago. Anti-Clinton voices slam the probe as a distraction meant to discredit the now president-elect. Defense Secretary Ash Carter has also been pushing for more anti-Russia action claiming that the alleged Russian hacking was an "aggressive attack against our very democracy". Kellyanne Conway, a top Trump aide, noted that a New York Times article had suggested that Obama was trying to "box-in" Trump and make it more hard to execute his policy of pursuing better relations with Russian Federation.

Trump has repeatedly praised Putin and declined to criticise Russian Federation in any way over the alleged interference.

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