MOSCOW: Russia on Tuesday criticised Washington’s blacklisting of a high-ranking official and the suspects in the murder of ex-spy Alexander Litvinenko as a move by the outgoing administration to further sour bilateral ties.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters the US decision to blacklist Investigative Committee chief Alexander Bastrykin and Litvinenko’s alleged assassins, lawmaker Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitri Kovtun, represented “further steps in the artificially created degradation of our relations”.
“We deeply regret the fact that a lingering period of unprecedented degradation in our bilateral ties occurred during (US President Barack) Obama’s second presidential term,” Peskov said.
“We are convinced that this does not coincide with our interests or that of Washington.”
The US Treasury on Monday added Bastrykin, Lugovoi and Kovtun to the Magnitsky Act sanctions list in the latest spike of diplomatic tensions between Moscow and Washington.
State Department spokesman John Kirby said the additions followed “extensive research” and targeted individuals with “roles in the repressive machinery of Russia’s law enforcement systems, as well as individuals involved in notorious human rights violations.”
Washington has accused the Kremlin of orchestrating cyber attacks aimed at influencing the results of November’s White House race.
US intelligence agencies last week released a report saying that Russian President Vladimir Putin personally ordered a hacking campaign and media manipulation to upend the campaign of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
Moscow, which branded the report baseless and amateurish, has repeatedly rejected the accusations, over which Obama last month expelled 35 Russian diplomats allegedly involved in espionage and due to “harassment” of US diplomats in Russia.