US releases list of Russian politicians, tycoons for potential sanctions | Pakistan Today

US releases list of Russian politicians, tycoons for potential sanctions

WASHINGTON: The US Treasury Department has released a hotly anticipated list of 210 Russian officials and billionaires believed to have close links to President Vladimir Putin, exposing them to scrutiny and potential future sanctions in a move that has angered the Kremlin.

Published early on January 30 – shortly after midnight in Washington – the so-called Kremlin Report names 114 senior Russian political figures and 96 “oligarchs” who US authorities say have gained wealth or power through association with Putin.

Informally, it has also been called the “Putin list” and the “oligarchs list.”

The report was mandated by Congress in a law aimed at increasing pressure on Russia in response to its alleged meddling in the US presidential election last year.

The report itself does not impose sanctions, and President Donald Trump’s administration has notified Congress that it will not impose new sanctions on Russia at this time.

The list includes 43 of Putin’s aides and advisers including his spokesman Dmitry Peskov, 31 cabinet ministers including Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, senior lawmakers, and top officials in Russia’s intelligence agencies.

The CEOs of major state-owned companies, including energy giant Rosneft’s chief, Igor Sechin, and the head of state-controlled Sberbank, German Gref, are also on the list, along with some of the most famous wealthy Russians.

“To determine the list of oligarchs,” the Treasury Department said, it “enumerated those individuals who, according to reliable public sources, have an estimated net worth of $1 billion or more.”

The tycoons named include Roman Abramovich, Alisher Usmanov, US NBA basketball team owner Mikhail Prokhorov, aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska, and Kaspersky Lab founder Yevgeny Kaspersky.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich dismissed the list as little more than a “Who’s Who” of Russian politics.

Pro-Kremlin lawmaker Konstantin Kosachyov, chairman of the foreign affairs committee in the upper house of parliament, said US authorities “ended up copying the Kremlin phone book.”

CAATSA Act

The Kremlin Report was submitted to the US Congress on January 29 as required under Counter America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA). The published list is part of the unclassified version of the report.

Trump reluctantly signed the CAATSA law in August after it was passed by an overwhelming majority in both chambers of the US legislature after the country’s intelligence community said that Putin ordered a campaign aimed at influencing the presidential election.

Peskov on January 29 accused the United States of using the list as an attempt to meddle in Russia’s March 18 presidential election, which is almost certain to hand Putin a new six-year term and has been dismissed by opposition politician Aleksei Navalny as an undemocratic “reappointment” process.

“We really do believe that this is a direct and obvious attempt to time some steps to coincide with the election in order to exert influence on it,” Peskov told journalists.

Earlier on January 29, the US State Department said that, if fresh US sanctions are imposed in connection with the legislation, “they would primarily be on non-Russian entities that are responsible for significant transactions with Russia’s defence and intelligence sector.”

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the 2017 US law was deterring billions of dollars in Russian defence sales – and that “if the law is working, sanctions on specific entities or individuals will not need to be imposed because the legislation is, in fact, serving as a deterrent.”

Nauert did not announce new sanctions on January 29 or speak about individuals named by the Kremlin Report, saying the State Department “does not preview” its sanctions actions.

Instead, Nauert said the CAATSA “legislation and its implementation are deterring Russian defence sales.”

“Since the enactment of the…legislation, we estimate that foreign governments have abandoned planned or announced purchases of several billion dollars in Russian defence acquisitions,” she said.

In what was seen as a test of Trump’s willingness to crack down on Russia, Congress had given the administration the January 29 deadline to release key reports under the law.

Trump Criticism

Trump criticized the law as “seriously flawed” when he signed it.

“We are using this legislation as Congress intended to press Russia to address our concerns related to its aggression in Ukraine, interference in other nations’ domestic affairs, and abuses of human rights,” Nauert said.

“Foreign government and private sector entities have been put on notice, both publicly and privately, including by the highest-level State Department and other US government officials where appropriate, that significant transactions with listed Russian entities will result in sanctions,” she said.

Nauert confirmed that both the State Department and the US Treasury Department have communicated directly with “the relevant Congressional committees” about CAATSA and provided “briefings to update members and staff” on January 29 about the administration’s progress on implementing the legislation.

A spokesman for Democratic Senator Ben Cardin, the ranking member of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Cardin’s statements about possible fresh sanctions under CAATSA before the release of the Kremlin Report were “purposely vague” because the information provided to the committee by the State Department was considered “classified.”

US intelligence agencies said in January 2017 that they had determined that Putin ordered a concerted hacking-and-propaganda campaign aimed at influencing the US presidential election, with the goals of undermining faith in the US electoral process, denigrating Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton, and improving Trump’s chances of winning.

US Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller and three congressional panels are separately investigating alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 US election and any potential ties between the Trump campaign and the Russians.

Trump denies there was any collusion, and Putin has denied that Russia interfered in the US election process, despite what US officials say is substantial evidence.



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