Ukrainian parliament greenlights sanctions on Russia

KIEV, Aug. 14 (Xinhua) -- The Ukrainian parliament on Thursday approved a bill that provides legal instruments for imposing sanctions on Russian companies and individuals over their alleged support for insurgents in the east.

The bill, which was backed by 242 of 318 lawmakers present at the parliament, includes a provision that Kiev may halt natural gas transit from Russia through Ukrainian territory.

The sanctions will also target Russia's defense, financial and transport sectors, but will not touch media and IT areas, as the government initially demanded.

Last week, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk said his country might introduce sanctions against 172 Russian individuals and 65 companies that allegedly sponsor independence-seeking insurgents in eastern Ukraine and declare support for Crimea's affiliation with Russia.

After being adopted by the parliament, the sanction plan needs the approval of the National Security and Defense Council to come into force.

Kiev has repeatedly blamed Moscow for inciting unrest in eastern Ukraine, where rebels are demanding independence. Russia, however, has denied the charges, saying the accusations are groundless.