The United States released Friday a list of 18
Russian citizens banned from travelling to the US for human rights
violations under a US law that has heightened tensions with Moscow.
The individuals were named under a US law named for Russian whistle-blower lawyer Sergei Magnitsky who died in 2009 while he was in police custody.
Sixteen of those named Friday were linked to the Magnitsky case, including prison officials, Interior Ministry officials involved in the investigation, prosecutors and others, State Department officials said. One individual was named for the killing of a Chechen dissident in Vienna in 2009 and another is a suspect in the killing of a Russian journalist in 2004.
They will be banned from travelling to the US and any assets held in the US will be frozen.
A separate classified list contains an unspecified number of other individuals, a senior State Department official said. The official would not provide details about why those individuals were sanctioned or why their names were being kept secret. The law allows for a classified list, and lawmakers had been briefed on those individuals, who are only under a visa ban.
White House spokesman Jay Carney called Magnitsky's death "a tragedy" and noted officials implicated in the death have remained unpunished.
"This administration is committed to working with the Congress to advance universally recognized human rights worldwide, and we will use the tools in the Magnitsky Act and other available legal authorities to ensure that persons responsible for the maltreatment and death of Mr Magnitsky are barred from traveling to the United States and doing business here," he said.
The law passed late last year prompted a showdown with Moscow, which banned US adoptions of Russian children in response.
A senior State Department official said the US would continue to evaluate the need to include other individuals on the list as more information becomes available.
The decision about whom to include was not taken lightly, the official said.
"Putting a name on this list is a serious undertaking, it has serious ramifications," he said, noting the law had been implemented in "a fair spirit and diligently."
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned Washington earlier Friday against publishing the list at the risk of further damaging relations. "We will react, and the US knows that," he said.
The Duma's foreign affairs committee has said it would consider its own blacklist of alleged US human rights violators, including for alleged abuses at the US prison for terrorist suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
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