- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Russian lawmakers on Wednesday debated adding treason to a proposal parliament is now crafting to penalize anyone on Russian soil caught complying with U.S. economic sanctions.

In the latest round of tit-for-tat moves against Washington, last week Russian lawmakers in the State Duma approved a bill aiming to blunt the impact of U.S.-imposed financial restrictions and asset freezes on Russian oligarchs and companies associated with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

That legislation, which lawmakers debated again on Tuesday and Wednesday, would enable a Russian court to impose a prison term of up to four years on any individual or representative of a legal entity in Russia who refuses to supply services or do business with Russian citizens due to sanctions.

On Wednesday, Duma member and first deputy head of the United Russia faction, Andrei Isayev, said lawmakers were debating adding treason to that legislation, according to the state news service Tass.

“A proposal was put forward to make this component equal to treason,” he told reporters in Moscow.

The U.S., European Union and several other countries have imposed harsh economic sanctions to punish Moscow for seizing Crimea and interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, in addition to other “malign activity around the globe.” The latest wave of U.S. sanctions against Russia was unveiled in early April.

According to Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volxdin, more than 400 legal entities and roughly 200 Russian citizens have been targeted by the Western sanctions.

To become law, the bill requires three more parliamentary votes before going to Mr. Putin for his approval. The bill also criminalizes providing advice or information to foreign governments attempting to impose sanctions.

On Tuesday, in another sanctions-related move, parliament passed a bill giving the Kremlin broad power to curb certain imports from western countries and ban selected exports to the US. While the legislation grants Mr. Putin the power to impose a wide range of restrictions, it will not stop titanium exports to the U.S. — a move sought by some lawmakers.

Russia supplies U.S. aerospace company Boeing about 35 percent of its titanium.

• Dan Boylan can be reached at dboylan@washingtontimes.com.

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