US imposes new sanctions on Russian oligarchs, government officials

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Washington, April 6 (IANS) The US on Friday imposed new economic sanctions on 17 senior Russian government officials, a state-owned weapons trading company and its subsidiary, a Russian bank, seven Russian oligarchs with ties to President Vladimir Putin along with 12 companies they own or control.

“The Russian government operates for the disproportionate benefit of oligarchs and government elites,” the US Treasury Department said in a statement.

“Russian oligarchs and elites who profit from this corrupt system will no longer be insulated from the consequences of their government’s destabilizing activities,” US Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin said, citing Russia’s occupation in Crimea and its ongoing efforts to supply the Assad regime in Syria with materials and weapons.

The action targetted Russian oligarchs including Putin’s son-in-law Kirill Shamalov, senior Russian official Oleg Deripaska who has been investigated for money laundering and Suleiman Kerimov, who allegedly brought millions of euros into France in suitcases, according to the Treasury Department.

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The measures were also aimed at the state-owned Russian weapons trading company Rosoboronexport, which has long-standing ties to Syria and its subsidiary, Russian Financial Corporation Bank.

These sanctions were the latest step by the US against Russia following the poisoning of a former Russian spy on British soil, interference in the US 2016 election and a cyberattack, described as the most damaging in history, CNN reported.

The Trump administration has been under pressure by Congress to act to meet demands under a sanctions law passed by Congress in 2017 to punish Russia for interfering in US elections.

Assets will now be frozen of 17 senior Russian officials including Russian Federation Security Council’s secretary Nikolai Patrushev, Internal Affairs Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev and Putin’s aide Evgeniy Shkolov.

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Among the companies targeted by the US included GAZ Group, Russia’s leading manufacturer of commercial vehicles owned by Deripaska along with Russian Machines and Renova Group comprised of investment funds and management companies operating in the energy sector in Russia.

The US identified over 200 wealthy Russians, top officials and business leaders in January and later slapped sanctions in March on Russian government hackers and spy agencies for interfering in the 2016 election and the cyberattack, including people named in FBI Robert Mueller’s indictment.



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