US announces new sanctions against Russians

The new sanctions come three days after the U.S. released an unclassified intelligence assessment connecting Putin to the hacking

WASHINGTON (AP) – The U.S. is economically blacklisting five more Russians, including a senior law enforcement official in President Vladimir Putin’s government.

Under the sanctions, their assets are blocked and people in the United States are generally prohibited from dealing with them.

The new sanctions come three days after the U.S. released an unclassified intelligence assessment connecting Putin to the hacking of Democratic accounts in an effort to interfere with the 2016 election. Officials say the sanctions are unrelated to the hacking and are instead connected to a 2012 U.S. law to punish Russian human rights violators.

The most prominent individual targeted by the U.S. is Alexander Bastrykin, the head of Russia’s main investigative agency.

Monday, Senate and House Democrats also called for an independent, bipartisan investigation into the hacking. They held a news conference on Monday.

Meanwhile, both the Russian government and WikiLeaks are denouncing the U.S. government’s report on Russian hacking.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange calls it a politically motivated “press release.” And he says it offered no evidence that Russia provided WikiLeaks with any hacked material.

The report accused Russia of trying to interfere with the U.S. election, with actions including hacking into the email accounts of Democratic Party officials. And it explicitly linked Russian President Vladimir Putin to the hackings.

But a Putin spokesman today says the accusations have “no substance.” He added: “We are tired of such accusations. This is beginning to remind us of a full-fledged witch hunt.”

(Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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