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Putin rips U.S. list targeting Russia's elite as 'unfriendly act'

Putin rips U.S. list targeting Russia's elite as 'unfriendly act'
The Trump administration late Monday released a list of about 200 Russian politicians and oligarchs targeted for sanctions, fulfilling a demand by Congress that the U.S. punish President Vladimir Putin's administration for interfering in the 2016 U.S. election. (Alexei Nikolsky / Associated Press)

The Trump administration has provided the Treasury Department with a list of about 210 Russians deemed close enough to Russian President Vladimir Putin to be targets for new sanctions.

Putin criticized the list as an "unfriendly act."

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The list, released late Monday night, fulfills a congressional demand that Washington punish the Kremlin for interference in the 2016 U.S. election. President Trump reluctantly signed the bill in August.

Called "Putin's List," it reads like a who's who of Russia's richest and most powerful politicians and leaders. In fact, the list looks so much like the staff listing on the Kremlin administration's website and the first 96 names on Forbes magazine's 200 Russian billionaires list that several commentators have wondered whether the White House might have done a cut-and-paste job to meet the Jan. 29 deadline. The Trump administration released the list 12 minutes before the deadline.

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The White House stopped short of recommending that the Treasury Department place those named under sanctions at this point. However, it places those named under risk of future targeting.

Putin's entire administration is on it, including Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinsky, who recently issued an order to ban the satirical movie "The Death of Stalin" from Russian theaters, also made the list. Senior political figures named include Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin and Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika.

And then there are the 96 names of Russia's richest "oligarchs," wealthy business leaders, bankers and state oil and gas company chiefs, many of whom are in Putin's closest circles. Yuri Milner, a Silicon Valley investor, is named.

The unusual scope and breadth of the list show that the Trump administration is sticking to a policy that is anti-globalization and putting America first, said Fyodor Lukyanov, a Moscow-based foreign affairs analyst and editor of Russia in Global Affairs magazine.

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If the Obama White House tried to move the Russian elite into a globalized world, the Trump administration is sending a signal with this list of doing the opposite, Lukyanov said.

Putin, at a campaign event in Moscow, said sarcastically it was "a pity" his name wasn't on the list. He went on to call the list an "unfriendly act," which essentially put "all 146 million Russians on the list."

"The list shows that all Russian establishment, be it political or business … they are all potential targets," Lukyanov said. "It's not about politics. That's about business, and the business is about America's interest first, whether it's corporate or state interests."

There was outrage from Moscow on Tuesday after the list was published.

"The United States has crudely violated all possible principles of international relations, making cooperation with Russia in various areas virtually impossible," Russian media quoted Franz Klintsevich, the deputy head of Russia's Federation Council's Committee on Defense and Security, as saying.

Dmitry Peskov, Putin's spokesman, whose name is also on the list, told reporters in his daily briefing that the Kremlin would analyze the list before deciding how Moscow could respond.

As for his inclusion on the list, "I am pretty much indifferent," Peskov said, adding that the entire administration's last names were included on the list. "It's also worth noting that all these people are effectively being called enemies of the United States."

Ayres is a special correspondent.

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Twitter: @sabraayres

UPDATES:

2:15 p.m.: This article was updated with comments from Vladimir Putin describing the list as an "unfriendly act."

This article was originally published at 7:25 a.m.

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