July 07, 2020

Kremlin vows to retaliate against fresh UK sanctions against Russians
The Kremlin spokesman says that Moscow will respond to new UK sanctions against Russian citizens including a senior investigator and prison officials. Britain on Monday used a new legislation drafted in the memory of a killed Russian tax adviser to sanction 25 Russian nationals linked to prosecution and mistreatment of tax adviser Sergei Magnitsky as well as 20 Saudis involved in the murder of a journalist in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, told reporters on Tuesday that Moscow “can only lament such hostile steps.” “We will certainly rely on reciprocity and respond in the way that fits Russia’s interests,” he said. Alexander Bastrykin, Russia’s top investigator and a university friend of Vladimir Putin, is arguably the most senior official to have been slapped by the new sanctions and his name is likely to anger the Kremlin. As the head of the Investigative Committee, Mr Bastrykin is accused of covering up the mistreatment of Mr Magnitsky who died in prison after a year in pre-trial detention in 2009. A tax lawyer, Mr Magnitsky discovered a massive tax scam involving Russian tax authorities and ended up jailed by the same officials he had exposed. A Russian presidential commission concluded that he was beaten to death in prison. Most of the people on the sanctions list are lower-level officials and prison staff including two prison doctors who faced charges of negligence but were never convicted. All of them will now be subject to travel bans and asset freezes but it is not immediately clear if they have any property in Britain. The United States adopted the Magnitsky Act in 2012, targeting money of senior Russian officials kept in Western banks. Russia then responded with travel bans as well as a ban on American adoptions of Russian children. The Kremlin has outlawed institutions such as the British Council during previous diplomatic spats between the two countries, which does not leave Moscow much British property to target this time.
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