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Obama Admin Sanctions Five Russians Over Human Rights Abuses

Russia Putin

The Obama administration unveiled sanctions on five Russian individuals on Monday in connection with human rights abuses.

The State and Treasury Departments announced the updates to the list of individuals subject to sanctions related to the Magnitsky Act on Monday afternoon.

Five Russian individuals, among them Aleksandr Bastrykin, a close aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin, will now be subject to sanctions. Bastrykin has performed political investigations on Putin's behalf and was involved in the case of Sergei Magnitsky, the Russian lawyer who died in Moscow's custody in 2009, according to the New York Times.

The Magnitsky Act, which was named for Sergei Magnitsky, passed Congress with bipartisan support in 2012 and directs the U.S. government to punish individuals involved in the case or other human rights abuses by the Russian Federation.

The individuals sanctioned on Monday will be banned from traveling to the United States and will have their financial assets held by American institutions frozen.

Bastrykin along with Russians Stanislav Gordievsky, Dmitri Kovtun, Andrei Lugovoi, and Gennady Plaksin were added to the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control's specially designated nationals list.

The latest round of sanctions targeting Russia came less than two weeks after the Obama administration imposed sanctions on Russian individuals and entities and expelled Russian diplomats from the U.S. in response to the Russian government's alleged cyber and disinformation campaign to undermine the American presidential election.

Relations between Washington and Moscow have grown especially frosty in recent months, over the election-related cyber attacks and Russia's involvement in the ongoing conflicts in Ukraine and Syria.

The new sanctions were announced less than two weeks before the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump and one day before President Obama's farewell address in Chicago.