The head of Russia's National Guard, Viktor Zolotov, is among those included in the latest round of sanctions. (file photo)
The United States has targeted more individuals in Russian President Vladimir Putin's power structure with sanctions over Moscow's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and slapped fresh punitive measures on Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, Putin's close ally.
The U.S. State Department slapped sanctions on 11 Russian military leaders on March 15, including several deputy ministers of defense and Viktor Zolotov, chief of Russia's National Guard and a member of Russian President Vladimir Putin's Security Council.
Any U.S. assets those targeted may have in the United States have been frozen under the measures, which generally bar U.S persons from dealing with the sanctioned individuals. The U.S. Treasury Department imposed measures on four Russians and one entity it accused of being involved in concealing events around the death of whistle-blower Sergei Magnitsky or of being connected to rights violations against human rights advocate Oyub Titiyev.
Titiyev, head of the Memorial human rights center in Chechnya, was detained and accused of possessing illegal drugs in 2018. Titiyev said the police had planted the drugs on him during a shake-down. He was sentenced to 4 years in a penal colony.
Andrea Gacki, the director of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control, said in the statement that its sanctions were the consequences for people engaged in corruption or connected to gross violations of human rights.
“Today’s designations demonstrate the United States will continue to impose concrete and significant consequences for those who engage in corruption or are connected to gross violations of human rights,” Gacki said. "We condemn Russia's attacks on humanitarian corridors in Ukraine and call on Russia to cease its unprovoked and brutal war against Ukraine," she said. Magnitsky, a Russian lawyer and whistle-blower who helped uncover the theft of nearly $230 million from Russia's government through fraudulent tax refunds was arrested, and died in a Moscow prison in 2009 after suffering from what his supporters say amounted to torture. The sanctions targeted Judge Natalia Mushnikova, accused by Treasury of "participating in efforts to conceal the legal liability for the detention, abuse, or death" of Magnitsky. Punitive measures were also imposed on the Kurchaloi District of the Chechen Republic Branch of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation, whose officers arrested Titiyev in 2018 and charged him with possession of drugs. Those sanctioned include Nurid Salamov, the investigator who opened the case against Titiyev; Khusein Khutaev, the officer who allegedly spotted drugs in Titiyev’s vehicle; and Dzhabrail Akhmatov, who the Treasury said decided to bring charges against Titiyev. Some of the new sanctions were brought under the Magnitsky Act, a 2012 act of Congress named after Magnitsky, which authorizes sanctions against those engaged in human rights abuses. The Treasury said in a statement it was adding to its sanctions against Lukashenka and also targeting his wife.