Russia has barred 25 British citizens from entering the country in a tit-for-tat move after London sanctioned 25 Russians, including a close ally of Vladimir Putin.
A Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman accused the UK of interfering in Russia’s internal affairs by issuing the July sanctions against individuals thought to be involved in the mistreatment and death of a Russian lawyer called Sergei Magnitsky.
“In response to the unfriendly actions of the British authorities and on the basis of the principle of reciprocity, the Russian side made a decision to impose personal sanctions against 25 British representatives who are barred from entering the Russian Federation,” Maria Zakharova said in a statement.
“We once again call on the British leadership to abandon an unfounded confrontational line with regard to our country.
“Any unfriendly steps will not be left without an inevitable proportionate response.”
The statement did not reveal the identities of the 25 Britons.
In July, Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, announced a total of 47 people, including the 25 Russians, had been included on a UK sanctions list.
This group were the first to have been designated for sanctions such as travel bans and asset freezes.
Mr Raab said at the time: “Those with blood on their hands, the thugs of despots, the henchman of dictators, will not be free to waltz into this country to buy up property on the King’s Road, to do their Christmas shopping in Knightsbridge or frankly to siphon dirty money through British banks or other financial institutions.”
He also warned that organised criminals will “not be able to launder your blood money in this country”.
The biggest Russian name on the list is Alexander Bastrykin, whose Investigative Committee reports directly to Mr Putin.
He has already been blacklisted by the United States and Canada over the death of Mr Magnitsky, who uncovered large-scale tax fraud in Russia but died in prison in 2009 after giving evidence against corrupt officials.
He lends his name to the US “Magnitsky Act”, which imposes sanctions on human rights abusers.
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