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U.S. sanctions 24 Russians, entities for 2016 election interference

By Sara Shayanian
U.S. sanctions 24 Russians, entities for 2016 election interference
People wave flags during a speech by Russian President Vladimir Putin in Nakhimov Square in Sevastopol, Crimea, Wednesday. The U.S. Treasury on Thursday announced new sanctions against 19 Russian individuals for interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential vote. Photo by Yuri Gripas/UPI | License Photo

March 15 (UPI) -- U.S. regulators on Thursday announced new punitive sanctions against five Russian entities and 19 citizens for interfering in the United States' presidential election in 2016.

The Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control, the department's enforcement arm, said the sanctions counter "destabilizing activities" by Russia -- which include interfering in the U.S. vote and spearheading last year's "NotPetya" cyberattacks.

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"The administration is confronting and countering malign Russian cyber activity, including their attempted interference in U.S. elections, destructive cyber-attacks, and intrusions targeting critical infrastructure," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement Thursday.

The sanctions target the Internet Research Agency, a Russian firm officials say spread false or misleading information through the use of phony social media accounts. The sanctions also target one of the agency's closest affiliates, Concord Management and Consulting and Concord Catering,

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"These targeted sanctions are a part of a broader effort to address the ongoing nefarious attacks emanating from Russia," Mnuchin added. "[The sanctions] hold Russian government officials and oligarchs accountable for their destabilizing activities by severing their access to the U.S. financial system."

In its statement, the Treasury slammed Russia for "reckless and irresponsible conduct" and say the sanctions will "address destabilizing activity emanating from within Russia."

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All 13 people indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller last month were targeted by Thursday's sanctions.

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The new punishment was announced amid tensions over a nerve agent attack on former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Britain -- an attack the United States, France, Germany and Britain accused the Kremlin of in a joint statement Thursday.

Wednesday, Britain expelled 23 Russian diplomats over the attack.

Moscow has denied responsibility for the attack against Skripal, 66, who has been hospitalized in critical condition since March 4.

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