The US Treasury Department has added five Russian officials to its “Magnitsky List,” which is designed to punish rights abusers in Russia.
The list is an outgrowth of the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Act, adopted by the United States in 2012. The law itself traces its roots to the 2009 murder of a whistle-blowing Russian lawyer and accountant, Sergei Magnitsky, who was beaten and died in a Moscow prison after spending almost a year behind bars.
The five additions, which were publically announced in Washington on February 1, raise the total number of Russian officials on the list to 39. Those designated under the Magnitsky Act are barred from traveling to the Unites States, and are prohibited from utilizing the US financial system.
“Four of the five [officials] are directly implicated in the persecution and death of Sergei Magnitsky,” a US State Department official said in a February 1 teleconference. “The fifth was implicated in the mistreatment – torture, really – of a Chechen human rights activist.”
The most noteworthy addition to the Magnitsky List is Aleksey Anichin, a former deputy interior minister who originally authorized the case against Magnitsky. Three others joining Anichin on the list are Pavel Lapshov, whose investigative unit claimed that Magnitsky’s employer was responsible for the corruption conspiracy Magnitsky himself unearthed; Boris Kibis, an investigator who claimed Magnitsky had never been tortured; and Oleg Urzhumtsev, who was involved in Magnitsky’s posthumous prosecution.
Washington also placed Yevgeni Antonov, the former head of Chechnya’s Chernokozovo Prison, on the list, even though Antonov was not directly connected to Magnitsky’s case. “That is a notorious prison,” the US official said. “Quite apart from the particular case of the Chechen human rights activist, that prison was known to be a place where people were regularly tortured. That has been well documented by a number of human rights groups.”
The Kremlin has yet to react to the latest round of sanctions. The US official said it was Washington’s hope that the Magnitsky List was now complete.
“The Magnitsky Act was intended to be an open-ended process, and we are regularly reviewing the situation to see whether there are additional designations possible. There is no set schedule for new designations,” the senior US diplomat said during the February 1 teleconference. “Now, we will continue to look at the Magnitsky case, and there may be new names that appear. But it would be our hope that there will be no cause for this because human rights in Russia will improve to the point that it becomes a dead letter.”