On 09 January 2017, the Obama Administration announced that it added five Russian nationals to the Magnitsky Sanctions list for human rights abuses. Under these sanctions, a travel-ban to the United States and a freezing of any assets held by or transactions with American financial institutions are imposed. These individuals have now been added to OFAC’s SDN List.
The move by the Obama Administration will further complicate how President-Elect Trump can ease tensions between Russia and the U.S.
The most eye-catching designated individual is Aleksandr I. Bastrykin, an aide who directly reports to President Putin. Its reported that Mr. Bastrykin has been involved in numerous high-level political investigations. In this context, Mr. Bastrykin is alleged to be complicit in the case of Sergei L. Magnitsky, a lawyer who controversially died in custody in November 2009 and for whom the U.S. Magnitsky Act was named.
The latest round of designations by President Obama, although unconnected to the cyber-related hacking sanctions, puts more fuel on an already inflamed situation. Given the timing, the question is whether President-Elect Trump will discontinue the sanctions.
As reported in an earlier blog, the U.S. Magnitsky Sanctions, enacted since 2012, target and penalize Russian individuals involved in the earlier cited Sergei L. Magnitsky case and subsequent cover-ups, or in other human rights abuses. The U.S. Government has now designated over 30 individuals under the Magnitsky sanctions.
These sanctions are however, subject to the yoyo effect. Enforced depending on the relations between Russia and the U.S.
In addition to Mr. Bastrykin, the U.S. Government also designated:
- Andrei K. Lugovoi and Dmitri V. Kovtun (two Russian intelligence officers who British authorities accuse of poisoning the Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko 2006 in London)
- Stanislav Gordievsky and Gennady Plaksin, two lower-level officials, who the United States said were involved in the cover-up of Mr. Magnitsky’s death.