The Canadian government is slapping sanctions on more than 30 individuals and entities it accuses of spreading lies in service of Russia’s war on Ukraine.
The targets include TV channel Zvezda, owned by Russia’s Ministry of Defence, as well as Dmitry Viktorovich Guberniev, a well-known TV presenter who co-hosted a pro-war rally in March.
Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly announced the sanctions Monday to coincide with a visit to Ottawa by Evgenia Kara-Murza, the wife of jailed Russian opposition leader Vladimir Kara-Murza, and human-rights and media freedom activist Bill Browder.
“The Russian regime’s war depends on lies and deception. It muzzles and imprisons its own citizens who dare speak the truth. As the number of Russian human-rights abuses continues to increase, Canada is taking measures to counter the propaganda that attempts to excuse them,” Ms. Joly said.
“We see through the lies. Canada stands with Ukraine.”
Separately, Ms. Joly said Canada is preparing to impose sanctions on those responsible for Mr. Kara-Murza’s imprisonment, including judges, police officers and others.
“We’re working on making sure that we’re targeting those who persecuted him. So that’s what I can tell you today,” she said.
Other new targets of Canadian sanctions include Vladimir Mashkov, a Russian actor who has spoken repeatedly at pro-regime rallies and formally nominated Russian President Vladimir Putin for re-election in 2018, as well as Vladimir Medinsky, a former minister of culture who took part in the negotiations with Ukraine before the invasion.
In a statement, the Department of Global Affairs said the Kremlin has sought to undermine Ukraine’s territorial integrity though state media and proxies that parrot Mr. Putin’s “talking points and patently false legal claims.”
Russia “has also attempted to hide the truth by severely restricting media freedoms and smothering legitimate political dissent, detaining people, like Vladimir Kara-Murza, who have the courage to speak out against Putin’s domestic repression and military aggression abroad.”
The sanctions freeze any assets the targeted Russians have in Canada and prohibit Canadian financial institutions from providing services to them. At least some of those named by Canada have already been targeted for sanctions by other Western countries. This thwarts their ability to use major credit cards and makes it difficult to travel abroad.
Mr. Browder said the sanctions are a “naming and shaming exercise” and send a signal to other Russian elites. “What it says to the rest is if you follow Putin’s orders you better enjoy vacations in Siberia, because that’s all you’re going to get in the future.”
Others on the list include Pavel Gusev, the editor-in-chief of the Moscow daily Moskovsky Komsomolets, and Sergei Bezrukov, another Russian actor who supports the war and signed an open letter in 2014 supporting the annexation of Crimea.
Mr. Kara-Murza was arrested on April 11 in Moscow after the broadcast of an interview with CNN in which he called Mr. Putin’s government a “regime of murderers.” He was immediately charged with disobeying police and sentenced to 15 days in prison. He has since been charged with high treason for allegedly spreading false information about Russia’s military foray into Ukraine.
His wife is urging Canada and other Western countries to press the Kremlin to release him and other prisoners of conscience.
In September, the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Commission of Inquiry concluded that Russia has committed war crimes in Ukraine.
Ms. Kara-Murza said the new sanctions are a very clear “gesture of support and solidarity” with Russian civil society.