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Kremlin promises reciprocal steps over UK sanctions against Russians

FILE PHOTO - Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov attends the annual end-of-year news conference of Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, Russia December 19, 2019. Picture taken December 19, 2019. Sputnik/Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin via REUTERS

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia will respond with reciprocal measures to British sanctions against 25 Russians, including the country’s top state investigator, the Kremlin said on Tuesday.

Britain imposed sanctions on 25 Russians and 20 Saudis on Monday as part of post-Brexit measures foreign minister Dominic Raab said were aimed at stopping the laundering of “blood money”.

“We can only regret such unfriendly steps,” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. “Of course, the principle of reciprocity and some kind of retaliatory response will apply to the extent that it suits the interests of the Russian Federation.”

Asked about the warning from Moscow, a spokesman for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “The Foreign Secretary has made clear that this sanctions regime is not intended to target countries. It’s a smart tool allowing for the targeted sanctioning of individuals and entities involved in serious violations or abuses of human rights.”

The sanctions targeted Russian nationals who Britain says were involved in the death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky.

Magnitsky, a Russian lawyer arrested in 2008 after alleging that Russian officials were involved in large-scale tax fraud, died in a Moscow prison in 2009 after complaining of mistreatment.

Reporting by Alexander Marrow and Maxim Rodionov; Editing by John Stonestreet and Peter Graff