Russians who meddled in US 2016 election face fresh sanctions

WASHINGTON • The United States has imposed fresh Russia-related sanctions, expanding a blacklist of individuals allegedly involved in a Kremlin-backed campaign to meddle with the 2016 US presidential election, among other misdeeds.

The US Treasury Department also announced on Wednesday that it would lift sanctions on major aluminium company Rusal and two other firms tied to billionaire Oleg Deripaska after a deal was struck to sever the Russian oligarch's control over them. But Mr Deripaska will remain under sanctions, it said.

The fresh sanctions targeted 15 members of a Russian military intelligence service and four entities involved in the alleged election interference, the hacking of the World Anti-Doping Agency and other "malign activities" around the world, the Treasury said in a statement on its website.

It said the action followed sanctions in April on Mr Deripaska and six other oligarchs, and was "in response to Russia's continued disregard for international norms".

The move comes on the heels of US President Donald Trump's signing of an executive order in September to impose sanctions on any country or person that tries to interfere in US elections.

He issued the order amid criticism over his handling of Russian election meddling.

Those sanctioned include Russian intelligence officers allegedly engaged in the hacking of Democratic Party officials' accounts and in campaigns to sow discord on social media to disrupt the elections.

The fresh sanctions targeted 15 members of a Russian military intelligence service and four entities involved in the alleged election interference, the hacking of the World Anti-Doping Agency and other "malign activities" around the world, the Treasury said in a statement on its website.

The list includes Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova, who was charged in October with attempting to interfere in this year's US mid-term elections and who has been named in court papers as the accountant for a group of Russian firms indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller earlier this year.

The Treasury singled out Mr Victor Boyarkin, a former intelligence officer, who reports directly to Mr Deripaska and helped provide "Russian financial support" to a Montenegrin political party ahead of elections in Montenegro in 2016.

It sanctioned several people for their alleged roles in the hacking of the World Anti-Doping Agency, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, and other bodies between 2016 and 2018.

It also sanctioned two Russian intelligence officers, Mr Alexander Petrov and Mr Ruslan Boshirov, for their alleged role in the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury in March.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 21, 2018, with the headline 'Russians who meddled in US 2016 election face fresh sanctions'. Print Edition | Subscribe