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US names Russian oligarchs, political figures in 'Putin list'

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IANS Washington
The US government has released a list of prominent Russian oligarchs and political figures with close ties to the Kremlin, in defiance of Moscow and implementing a Congressional law designed to punish Russia for election meddling.
Dubbed the "Putin list", the report published by the US Treasury Department late on Monday included 114 senior Russian political figures as well as 96 oligarchs with a net worth of $1 billion or more, CNN reported on Tuesday.
However, the report was "not a sanctions list" the Treasury Department said. It does not entail economic or diplomatic sanctions for those named and is intended to increase pressure on Moscow over its involvement in the 2016 US presidential elections.
Putin said the list was an unfriendly act that complicated the US-Russia ties but he said he did not want to escalate the situation.
He said Russia should instead be thinking about "ourselves and the economy".
"This is another step which... leads to further escalation of tensions," Aleksey Chepa, Deputy Chairman of the State Duma's international affairs committee, told official news agency RIA Novosti.
Oil magnate and owner of Chelsea soccer club Roman Abramovich, aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska and the media and tech magnate Alisher Usmanov were among the 96 oligarchs.
The list of 114 senior officials included names such as Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Putin's chief spokesman Dimitry Peskov besides several dozen advisors and managers of state firms and members of the Russian intelligence services.
The Department added the list was compiled "based on objective criteria drawn from publically available sources" and those on it would not be subject to further restrictions.
The government was required to draw up the list after Congress passed the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (Caatsa) in August.
The act aimed to punish Russia for its interference in the 2016 US election as well as alleged human rights violations, the annexation of Crimea and ongoing military operations in eastern Ukraine.
US President Donald Trump did not support Caatsa even though he signed it into law, saying it was "unconstitutional".
On Monday, the State Department announced it would not impose more sanctions on Russia. It also declined to impose sanctions against companies and foreign countries doing business with blacklisted Russian defence and intelligence entities.
Critics of the Trump administration were outraged. "The Trump administration had a decision to make whether they would follow the law and crack down on those responsible for attacking American democracy in 2016," said Representative Eliot Engel, the ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
"They chose instead to let Russia off the hook yet again," he said.
Democratic Senator Ben Cardin said: "The US should be prepared to impose sanctions when the law is clearly violated."
--IANS
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First Published: Jan 30 2018 | 7:50 PM IST

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