On Saturday, Moscow banned 18 US officials from entering Russia after the US the day before published a list of 18 Russian officials barred from the US and subject to US asset freezes owing to their alleged involvement in human rights abuses in Russia.

Known as the Magnitsky list, many of the 18 Russians were involved in the case of Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer who died in prison in 2009 after he tried to expose a $230m tax fraud by police investigators.

In addition to the 18 Russian officials, the US has banned an unspecified number of officials on a separate blacklist which remains classified, according to the US State Department.

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