WASHINGTON — The Obama administration plans to blacklist five Russians, including the government’s chief public investigator who is a close aide of President Vladimir V. Putin, for human-rights abuses, throwing down a gauntlet to President-elect Donald J. Trump, nearly two weeks before he takes office with a promise to thaw relations with Russia.
The sanctions, which the Treasury Department plans to announce later on Monday afternoon, are not related to allegations of Russian hacking during the presidential election, according to a senior official. But they will carry symbolic weight at a charged moment, as perhaps the last visible act the United States will take against Russia before power is transferred in Washington.
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The biggest name on the administration’s sanctions list is Aleksandr I. Bastrykin, who reports directly to Mr. Putin and has carried out an array of political investigations on his behalf. Mr. Bastrykin, officials said, was complicit in the case of Sergei L. Magnitsky, a lawyer who died in detention in November 2009 and who became the namesake for the Magnitsky Act.
Under the 2012 law, which was passed by Congress with Democratic and Republican support, the Treasury and Justice Departments must investigate and sanction Russian individuals who were involved in that case and subsequent cover-ups, or in other cases of human-rights abuses.
The sanctions to be imposed Monday include a ban on travel to the United States and a freezing of any assets held by American financial institutions or transactions with those institutions.
The Obama administration has enforced the law with varying degrees of enthusiasm, depending on the state of relations between the United States and Russia. But its final list of names, particularly with the inclusion of Mr. Bastrykin, is considered unusually robust, said the senior official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the announcement was not yet public.
The Magnitsky Act has long antagonized the Russian government, setting off a series of tit-for-tat actions.
Shortly after the law was passed, the Russian Parliament voted to ban the adoption of Russian children by Americans. In 2013, Russia released a list of Americans banned from traveling to Russia for purported human-rights violations.
Just before Christmas, the Treasury Department put sanctions on 15 Russian individuals and companies for their dealings in Crimea and Ukraine. Mr. Trump is widely expected to ease that economic pressure campaign. But it may be harder for him to ignore the requirements under the Magnitsky Act, since it was passed with bipartisan support and requires the executive branch to submit a list of names on an annual basis.
In addition to Mr. Bastrykin, the administration is targeting Andrei Lugovoi and Dimitri Kovtun, two Russian intelligence officers who were identified by British authorities as the men who poisoned a fellow Russian spy, Alexander Litvinenko, in London in 2006. Also on the list are Stanislav Gordievsky and Gennady Plaksin, two lower-level officials whom the United States said were involved in the cover-up of Mr. Magnitsky’s death.
The New York Times