March 12, 2023

OFAC designates 3 individuals for serious human rights abuse against Russian human rights defender

The US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control recently designated Elena Anatolievna Lenskaya, Andrei Andreevich Zadachin, and Danila Yuievich Mikheev for engaging in serious human rights abuse against human rights defender Vladimir Kara-Murza, pursuant to Executive Order 13818, which builds upon and implements the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act and targets those involved in serious human rights abuse and corruption around the world.  According to OFAC, Kara-Murza was a major advocate for the passage of the Magnitsky Act and the adoption of similar authorities in the US, Canada, EU and UK – a law named for Sergei Magnitsky, an attorney and auditor who was arrested and detained by Russian authorities in 2008 after he uncovered a large-scale tax fraud scheme involving Russian officials. Magnitsky died in 2009 in a Moscow pretrial detention center after suffering alleged physical and psychological abuse.

According to OFAC, Kara-Murza was arrested in April 2022 by Russian authorities on charges stemming from a speech he gave in March 2022 before the Arizona House of Representatives where he spoke out against the Kremlin and alleged war crimes committed by Russia’s military during the invasion of Ukraine. While independent press, civil society organizations, and the United Nations have confirmed the Russian military’s involvement in the alleged actions, a Russian court found probable cause that Kara-Murza spread disinformation and committed a crime against public safety.  As a result, the court recently decided to continue Kara-Murza’s detention pending trial.  OFAC reports that the Russian government also filed additional criminal charges against Kara-Murza, which include high treason and allegations of his involvement with an “undesirable” foreign organization.  In response, OFAC designated Lenskay, the judge who oversaw the pre-trial detention hearing; Zadachin, a special investigator who ordered the charges against Kare-Murza based on his speech in Arizona; and Mikheev, an expert witness who provided a report to the court supporting Russia’s case against Kara-Murza and the decision to detain him.

The US State Department concurrently imposed visa restrictions upon Zadachin and Lenskaya pursuant to Section 7031(c) of the Department of State, Foreign Operation, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2023. The State Department also designated Oleg Mikhailovich Sviridenko, Kiana Igorevna Mishchenko, and Ilya Pavlovich Kozlov under EO 14024 for being officials in the Russian government who allegedly oversaw the prosecution, arrest and detention of Kara-Murza.

As a result of the OFAC sanctions, all property and interests in property of the designees within the United States or within the possession or control of a US person are blocked, and US persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions involving the designated persons. In addition, entities owned 50 percent or more by one or more designated persons are also blocked, unless they are exempt or authorized by a general or specific license issued by OFAC.

Department of Treasury Press Release | Department of State Press Release