US names 18 blacklisted over dead Russian lawyer case

The United States on Friday named 18 Russians it has blacklisted for links to Moscow's handling of the case of the late human rights lawyer Sergei Magnitsky or other humna rights violations.

In a move certain to further strain relations between Washington and Moscow, the US Treasury released the names of 16 Moscow prosecutors, investigators, tax officials and judges linked to the Magnitsky case.

It also fingered two Chechens tied to other alleged rights abuses.

The government said the group was barred from traveling to the United States under the 2012 "Sergei Magnitsky Act," their US assets had been under Treasury sanctions and Americans are banned from doing business with them.

"The 2009 death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in pretrial detention in Moscow was a tragedy, and the investigation into his death has yielded no visible result," said White House spokesman Jay Carney.

"Russian officials implicated directly in Magnitsky's imprisonment and prison officials directly involved in decisions that led to his death remain unpunished."

The release of names previously kept secret came as Washington presses Moscow over Magnitsky, who died in 2009 after 11 months in Russian jails.

Whistle-blower Magnitsky was detained after he exposed the massive theft of state assets by Russian officials. He died in prison.

Moscow condemned the publication of the names, warning that it would further poison bilateral relations.

"This move will just inject more bad blood into Russian-American relations that have already become complicated recently," an official at the foreign ministry told the Interfax news agency on condition of anonymity.

The official warned that the publication of the list "will lead to similar measures on Russia's part" and added: "Responsibility for the consequences lies squarely with the American side."

The White House National Security Advisor Tom Donilon was scheduled to visit Moscow within days for talks with the secretary of Russia's Security Council, Nikolai Patrushev.

Earlier, Moscow had threatened to retaliate with its own public blacklist.

President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the US move could leave lasting damage on future ties between the two former Cold War foes.

"The appearance of some lists will unquestionably have a very negative impact on Russian-US bilateral relations," news agencies quoted him as saying.

An unnamed Russian source told the ITAR-TASS news agency that Moscow's counter-measures would be "symmetrical" and should be expected by Saturday.

Moscow reacted with anger when the Magnitsky Act was passed last year by US lawmakers keen to increase pressure on Moscow over the case.

In retaliation, Russia's parliament agreed legislation barring American families from adopting Russian children.

The Russian foreign ministry has since drawn up its own blacklist of US officials alleged to have committed human rights violations.

A former senior US commander at the Guantanamo base in Cuba, where the United States keeps terror suspects, has already been denied entry by Moscow.

The US blacklist includes Moscow judges Aleksey Krivoruchko, Sergei Podoprigorov, Yelena Stashina and Svetlana Ukhnalyova, who were involved in placing and keeping Magnitsky in detention, according to a US congressman.

It also included interior ministry officials Pavel Karpov, Artem Kuznetsov, and Oleg Lugunov, who directed the case against Magnitsky.

Also on the list was a Chechen, Kazbek Dukuzov, who was arrested, tried and exonerated in the 2004 murder of US journalist Paul Klebikov in Moscow.