Russia's Deripaska calls U.S. sanctions 'groundless, ridiculous'

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Officials listed Russia's "occupation of Crimea, instigation of violence in Eastern Ukraine, support for Assad in Syria, and ongoing malicious activity", including cyberactivity, as reasons for the economic sanctions.

The Treasury Department sanctions on seven Russian oligarchs and 12 companies they own or control, plus 17 senior Russian government officials, are likely to complicate US President Donald Trump's hopes for good relations with Putin.

Among the companies targeted by the U.S. include GAZ Group, Russia's leading manufacturer of commercial vehicles owned by Deripaska, and Russian Machines and Renova Group, which is comprised of investment funds and management companies operating in the energy sector in Russia.

The oligarchs targeted have close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin and include Kirill Shamalov, his former son-in-law.

Russian oligarch Suleiman Kerimov, who was arrested in France late previous year and named in the list of sanctioned individuals, also appeared in a recent BuzzFeed News investigation into Russian cyberactivity.

"Nobody has been tougher on Russian Federation than I have", Trump said at a news conference on Tuesday. And last month, the USA targeted 19 Russians and five Russian entities with sanctions in the first use of the new sanctions powers Congress passed previous year in response to the election meddling. Shamalov married Putin's youngest daughter Katerina in 2013, multiple sources who were at the wedding told Reuters.

Those being punished aren't necessarily involved in the Russian actions in Syria, Ukraine or elsewhere that have drawn consternation from the West.

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U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating whether Trump's election campaign colluded with Russian Federation, something that Trump denies.

As a result, all assets subject to U.S. jurisdiction of the designated individuals and entities, and of any other entities blocked by operation of law as a result of their ownership by a sanctioned party, are frozen, and USA persons are generally prohibited from dealings with them.

"Congressman Joaquin Castro ... and Congressman Mike Turner... introduced the bipartisan Stand with UK Against Russia Violations Act in response to Russia's nerve agent attack against Sergei and Yulia Skripal in the United Kingdom last month", the release said.

On the London Stock Exchange, global depositary receipts of En+, an energy company majority-owned by Deripaska, dropped by 19 percent on news of the sanctions.

Foreign contributions are barred in USA elections.

USA officials confirmed that their action against the oligarchs was in part related to Russia's alleged interference in the us vote, but stressed the broader nature of their concerns.

In announcing the sanctions, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement, "The Russian government operates for the disproportionate benefit of oligarchs and government elites". The administration has also expelled dozens of Russian diplomats and shut down two Russian consulates in response to Russian behaviour, including the poisoning of an ex-spy in Britain that has been blamed on Moscow.

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