Two of the five Russians who the Obama administration imposed sanctions on Monday for human rights abuses are suspected by Britain of poisoning former Kremlin spy official Alexander Litvinenko with polonium a decade ago.
Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun, the prime suspects in the 2006 murder of Litvinenko in London, were among five new names the U.S. State and Treasury Departments added to the “Magnitsky list” for human rights abuses, the Guardian reported. The head of Russia’s investigative committee and a close aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Alexander Bastrykin, was also blacklisted.
The sanctions are not related to the election hacking allegations against Russia, according to officials.
The Magnitsky Act was passed in 2012 to bar Russian officials responsible for committing human rights abuses from entering the U.S. and gaining access to its financial market.
The move is the latest in a series of actions taken against Russia in recent weeks. President Obama last month expelled 35 Russian diplomats from the U.S. who were accused by the administration of worked as intelligence operatives. The administration also ordered the closure of two Russian compounds in New York and Maryland.
The U.S. intelligence community has determined that senior Russian government officials directed cyber attacks against Democratic political networks leading up to the presidential election in an attempt to tip the results toward Donald Trump.
The president-elect has continued to reject the conclusions. Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway reaffirmed on Monday that Trump plans to ease U.S. sanctions against Russia upon taking office later this month.