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Moscow slams UK sanctions against Russians

Moscow on Thursday called British sanctions on 25 Russians accused of human rights violations an "unfriendly step" that is "politically biased.” It is unclear what basis London uses to "designate the guilty" and "decide punishment" for alleged involvement in the death of Russian tax accountant Sergei Magnitsky in a Moscow prison, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told a Moscow news conference. 

She argued that Moscow has repeatedly given "exhaustive comments and explanations" on the affair, which London "prefers to ignore".

"This is a politically-biased decision, and it will have a very negative impact on our bilateral relations, which have already been seriously damaged by the British side over the past few years," she said. 

Zakharova added that Great Britain's human rights record is "far from impeccable", that the UK hushed up, among others, "crimes of British military in Iraq", illegal collection of personal data by the UK intelligence services, and "the case of high-ranking West Minster pedophiles".

"The principle of reciprocity is one of the fundamental principles in inter-state relations, so we reserve the right to take adequate response and call on London to abandon the language of baseless accusations, choosing the path of a civilized dialogue about existing problems and concerns," she said.

On July 6, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab announced the UK’s new and independent sanctions system that was set up following Brexit, targeting around 50 human rights abusers in Saudi Arabia, Russia, Myanmar, and North Korea.

They include asset freezes and travel bans, and target those who breach human rights, as well as those who support or financially profit from these rights abuses.

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