WASHINGTON — The Treasury Department today announced the names of 18 Russians subject to financial sanctions and visa bans because of their alleged violations of human rights.
The list, an outgrowth of a law enacted last December to hold Russian officials accountable for human rights abuses, is certain to further strain relations with the Moscow government. Russia has strongly objected to the act and threatened to retaliate with its own sanctions.
The act is named for Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who was arrested in 2008 for tax evasion after accusing Russian police officials of stealing $230 million in tax rebates. He died in prison the next year, allegedly after being beaten and denied medical treatment.
The list included Artem Kuznetsov and Pavel Karpov, two Russian Interior Ministry officers who put Magnitsky behind bars after he accused them of stealing $230 million from the state.
Two tax officials the lawyer accused of approving the fraudulent tax refunds, and two other Interior Ministry officials accused of persecuting Magnitsky, were also on the list. Absent were senior officials from President Vladimir Putin’s entourage whom some human rights advocates had hoped to see sanctioned.
Magnitsky’s former client, London-based investor William Browder, who has campaigned to bring those responsible in his death to justice, has claimed that one of those tax officials, Olga Stepanova, has bought luxury real estate in Moscow, Dubai and Montenegro and wired money through her husband’s bank accounts worth $39 million.
The act was linked to legislation normalizing trade relations between the United States and Russia, but it drew immediate fire from Russia, which accused Congress of interfering with its internal affairs. Within days, Russia announced that it was banning U.S. adoptions of Russian children.