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US slaps sanctions on 5 Russians over rights abuses despite revived ties

Among the five newly blacklisted figures are Ruslan Geremeyev, an interior ministry official in the restive North Caucasus region of Chechnya who is close to its leader Ramzan Kadyrov

AFP | PTI  |  Washington 

Vladimir Putin
FILE PHOTO: Russia's President Vladimir Putin gestures during a joint press conference with US President Donald Trump at Helsinki, Finlad | Photo: Reuters

The has imposed sanctions on five Russians over abuses including the killing of a prominent opposition leader, days after top-level talks seemed to ease tensions between the powers.

The State Department highlighted the actions against the five people, plus one entity, as it submitted an annual report required by on actions taken under a law over human rights in

The law, which blocks any US assets of blacklisted people and bars them from traveling to the United States, is named after Sergei Magnitsky, an who died in custody in 2009.

Among the five newly blacklisted figures are Ruslan Geremeyev, an interior ministry official in the restive region of who is close to its leader

Geremeyev has faced accusations of involvement in the 2015 killing in central of Boris Nemtsov, a former turned

The said that Russian investigators twice tried but were blocked from bringing charges against Geremeyev as the possible organizer of the killing of Nemtsov -- the most high-profile death of a dissident since Putin rose to power two decades ago.

The also slapped sanctions on two Russian investigators, and Gennady Vyacheslavovich Karlov, for allegedly concealing facts over the death and detention of Magnitsky, the

"Nearly 10 years after his death, we remain concerned by the impunity for this and other violent crimes against activists, journalists, whistleblowers and political opposition," State Department said in a statement.

She also voiced concern about "the intense atmosphere of intimidation for those who work to uncover corruption or human rights violations in the Russian Federation."

The sanctions came just two days after met Putin in the Russian resort of Sochi, with both sides voicing optimism at finding areas on which to work together.

Pompeo said he still had deep disagreements with Putin but believed the two powers could cooperate on issues including finding a political settlement in war-ravaged and seeking a denuclearization deal with

Also hit with sanctions were the Terek Special Rapid Response Team in and its commander,

The Treasury Department said that the force had engaged in extrajudicial killings and torture, including in a crackdown on gay men that has drawn condemnation.

First Published: Fri, May 17 2019. 08:45 IST
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