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US Democrats demand sanctions against 35 Russians, including prime minister & Putin's spokesman, alleging ‘human rights abuses’

US Democrats demand sanctions against 35 Russians, including prime minister & Putin's spokesman, alleging ‘human rights abuses’
A proposed amendment to the US Pentagon funding bill demands that the White House sanction 35 Russian citizens for alleged human rights abuses, including the prime minister, Moscow's mayor and President Vladimir Putin's spokesman.

Businessmen, media executives and security officials are also targeted. 

On Wednesday, America's House Rules Committee approved the amendment put forth by Representative Tom Malinowski (a Democract Party member, from New Jersey), giving the government a six-month deadline to submit a report on whether any of the 35 individuals listed by name meet the criteria to be blacklisted under the so-called "Global Magnitsky Act," an anti-Russian sanctions law.

First on the list is Roman Abramovich, a Russian-Israeli tycoon best known as the owner of the English Premier League football club Chelsea. Other business figures on the list include VTB bank executives Denis Bortnikov and Andrey Kostin; wealthy investors Oleg Deripaska, Alisher Usmanov and Gennady Timchenko; Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller and Rosneft boss Igor Sechin; as well as Transneft chairman Nikolai Tokarev.

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A number of senior government officials are also mentioned by name: Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, Agriculture Minister Dmitry Patrushev, Health Minister Mikhail Murashko, and Deputy Defense Minister Andrei Kartapolov. 

Targeting the Kremlin, the bill lists presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov, presidential chief of staff Anton Vaino, and his first deputy Sergei Kirienko.

Moscow Region Governor Andrey Vorobyev and Leningrad Region Governor Alexander Beglov were also on the list, along with Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin, Central Election Commission head Ella Pamfilova, head of the federal prison service Alexander Kalashnikov, and chair of the state development corporation VEB Igor Shuvalov. So were the chiefs of the Federal Security Bureau (FSB) Alexander Bortnikov and the Investigative Committee (Sledkom) Alexander Bastrykin, and National Guard chief Viktor Zolotov.

A number of junior state and local officials were likewise listed, including the transport chief of the Economic Security Service, Victor Gavrilov, head of the Chelyabinsk FSB Dmitry Ivanov, Khimki district judge Elena Morozova, as well as police chief Igor Yanchuk, and Moscow chief prosecutor Denis Popov. The sanctions proposal also includes ex-chief prosecutor general Yuri Chaika and former deputy justice minister Pavel Krasheninnikov. 

In addition to government officials, also included are RT editor in chief Margarita Simonyan, Channel One CEO Konstantin Ernst, and TV talk show host Vladimir Solovyev.

Congressional staffer Paul Massaro described the proposal as an “amazing counter-kleptocracy national defense bill.” It is attached to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the must-pass bill to fund the US military, which is currently making its way through the House and the Senate.

Sanctions against any of the listed individuals would be based on the Global Magnitsky Act, a 2016 expansion of the 2012 law adopted by the US at the behest of international investor Bill Browder, a once vocal supporter of Putin who has sought to counter charges of tax evasion against him in Russia with claims of human rights violations by the Kremlin. 

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