MOSCOW, March 17 (RIA Novosti) – The US and EU imposed sanctions Monday on senior Russian officials following a referendum in Ukraine's autonomous republic of Crimea on Sunday in which voters overwhelmingly supported secession and reunification with Russia.
Those named on the US and EU lists of sanctions are banned from entry into the US and EU member states and their financial assets will be frozen.
The US sanctions targeted seven top Russian officials close to President Vladimir Putin, including presidential aide Vladislav Surkov, the speaker of the upper house of parliament, Valentina Matviyenko, and Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin.
The White House also announced sanctions on ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and three other Ukrainians, including the Crimean Prime Minister, Sergei Aksyonov.
Russian First Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov slammed the US sanctions as a reflection of Washington’s “pathological reluctance to accept reality and its desire to impose on everyone its one-sided, unbalanced and irrelevant approaches.”
The EU sanctions will be imposed for a six month period on a separate list of ten members of the Russian parliament, three military commanders and eight Crimean officials.
The ten MPs on the list are Sergei Mironov, who heads the A Just Russia Party parliamentary faction, two State Duma lawmakers, Leonid Slutsky and Sergei Zheleznyak, and six senators: Viktor Ozerov, Nikolay Ryzhkov, Vladimir Dzhabarov, Andrei Klishas, Yevgeny Bushmin and Alexander Totoonov.
The list also includes Russian military commanders – Southern Military District Commander Alexander Galkin, Western Military District Commander Anatoly Sidorov and Black Sea Fleet Commander Alexander Vitko.
Crimea’s top officials – premier Sergei Aksyonov, deputy premier Rustam Temirgaliyev and parliament speaker Vladimir Konstantinov – are also on the list.
The moves came a day after a referendum in Ukraine’s largely Russian-speaking autonomous republic of Crimea saw over 96 percent of voters approve secession and reunification with Russia.
The White House announced that the sanctions could be broadened if Russia moves to incorporate Crimea into its territory.
Russian officials earlier promised a proportional response against EU and US officials if sanctions were forthcoming.
The crisis in Ukraine began after Yanukovych stepped back from closer relations with Europe last fall, leading to months of often violent protests.
Crimea has refused to recognize as legitimate the government that came to power following Yanukovych’s ouster by a vote of parliament February 22, instead declaring independence and seeking to join Russia.
Updates with more names, Russian Foreign Ministry’s response