Ukraine expands sanctions on Russia

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The restrictions have been levied over what Kyiv has described as “illegal elections” in the separatist-held east. Close to 500 Russian individuals and companies are affected by the move.

The list of sanctioned individuals was posted on the website of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Wednesday, following the signing of the decree.

It includes members of Russia’s parliament and senior rebel figures leading a separatist conflict in the east of Ukraine.

Poroshenko said the companies and individuals were also held responsible for Moscow’s annexation of Crimea.

Top companies blocked

The list includes a number of reporters for Germany’s “Die Zeit” newspaper and three BBC employees, while the companies affected include Russian airline Aeroflot, security company Kaspersky Lab and banks Gazprombank and Bank of Moscow.

Poroshenko blamed “illegal elections” in the eastern Ukraine for the sanctions, which are the second set levied by Kyiv since the fighting began. The original list was never published and specific reasons for inclusion on either of the lists were not made public. Several Russia artists, actors and singers have also been blacklisted.

More than 400 individuals and 90 legal entities are affected in the latest round.

The United States and the EU have also imposed sanctions against Russian companies and allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Rebel vote threatens truce

Under the terms of the Minsk cease fire, local elections were due to be held in separatist regions in tandem with the rest of the country.

But after Kyiv postponed the polls due to security and monitoring concerns, pro-Russian separatists in Donetsk said the would hold their own ballot on October 18, a week before the rest of the country. The neighboring rebel region of Luhansk will hold its vote on November 1.

Violence has regularly resurfaced in eastern Ukraine despite a ceasefire agreed seven months ago. But the conflict region has remained quiet over the past week.

Almost 8,000 lives have been lost, most of them civilians, since the war began in April last year. Although Russia has been accused of backing the rebels, Moscow denies it is supplying troops and weapons.

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