VILNIUS: Lithuania has issued its first blacklist of 49 Russians banned for allegedly violating human rights or engaging in corruption and money laundering under its new Magnitsky law.
The blacklist was published by Lithuania’s Interior Ministry on January 15 and included Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of Russia’s Chechnya region, among other prominent Russians.
Human rights groups say that Kadyrov, who was appointed by Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2007 to head Chechnya, rules through repressive measures and has created a climate of impunity for security forces.
They claim Kadyrov has been responsible for abuses that include kidnappings, disappearances, torture, and killings of political opponents.
Also targeted on the Lithuanian blacklist are Russian Investigative Committee chief Aleksandr Bastrykin, who is accused of carrying out numerous politically charged cases against Putin opponents, and Russian lawmaker Andrei Lugovoi, who is accused in the poisoning death of Kremlin critic Aleksandr Litvinenko at a hotel in London in 2006.
The Lithuanian law was modelled on the U.S. Magnitsky Act. The Magnitsky laws are named for Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky who died in a Moscow jail in 2009 after suffering what his supporters said amounted to torture.
Magnitsky had been jailed by Russian authorities after he helped uncover a $230 million tax-fraud scheme. He was later convicted posthumously of the crime.
Lithuania was the fifth Western country to adopt Magnitsky legislation, following the United States, Canada, Britain, and Estonia.
The Lithuanian law authorizes the Foreign Ministry to identify people it considers to be violators of human rights or engaged in corruption and money laundering. The Interior Ministry can then act on those recommendations and ban the people from the country for five years.
Russia had no immediate response to the publication of the blacklist. The Russian ambassador to Vilnius, Aleksandr Udaltsov, has previously warned that Moscow will retaliate against the new law.
“We will have to respond to yet another unfriendly step by Lithuania and bar entry to Russia to a number of unwelcome individuals from this country,” Russian news agency Interfax has quoted him as saying.