01:23 GMT +317 October 2019
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    Participants in an unauthorised protest on Pushkinskaya Square, Moscow

    US Senators Urge Gov't to Impose Sanctions on Russian Officials Over Moscow Protests

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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - A group of 11 US senators, led by Marco Rubio and Benjamin Cardin, have urged Trump's administration to sanction several Russian officials, including the prosecutor-general and the justice minister, for allegedly suppressing the nation's opposition, according to a joint letter sent to Mike Pompeo and Steven Mnuchin.

    "We write to request that you take action in response to the Russian government’s ongoing targeting of dissidents and opposition leaders, including the politically motivated imprisonment of many Russian individuals. We urge you to use existing authorities under U.S. law, including the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act and the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, to impose targeted sanctions on Russian Government officials responsible for these human rights abuses," the letter said.

    Among the alleged abuses, the letter recalled the case of Konstantin Kotov, sentenced to four years in prison for taking part in multiple unauthorised demonstrations.

    "While some of the individuals [responsible for alleged violations] have already been sanctioned by the U.S. Government, many others — including Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika, Justice Minister Alexander Konovalov, and Federal Penitentiary Service Director Gennady Kornienko — have not," the senators added, demanding that the government take action.

    Previously, US House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel and Ranking Member Michael McCaul made similar calls to impose Magnitsky-related sanctions on Russian officials for their handling of the protests.

    A wave of unauthorised protests in Moscow began in mid-July after the authorities barred opposition figures from participating in the September 8 election after they failed to gather a sufficient number of signatures of support.

    Later on, the Moscow City Court ruled to allow one opposition candidate, Sergei Mitrokhin, to take part in the upcoming vote.

    Hundreds of people were detained by police as a result of the rallies. Though most of the arrested were later released, some of the organisers of the protest are to be detained until late September.

    Amid the unauthorised protests, the Moscow government gave the green light for two rallies with 100,000 people registered to attend. According to police figures, about 20,000 people attended the rallies, while the organisers claimed that some 50,000 protesters attended the events.

    Commenting on the demonstrations, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that citizens had the right to peaceful protests, and the authorities must abide by this right, but he added that laws can't be broken and nobody was entitled to resort to violence.

    Tags:
    Steven Mnuchin, Mike Pompeo, sanctions, U.S, protests, Russia
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