Vladimir Putin, the Russian prime minister, could be personally targeted by EU sanctions being drawn up to punish the Kremlin for the controversial conviction of Mikhail Khodorkovsky.
By Andrew Osborn, Moscow 17 Jan 2011
The sanctions, which are being considered by the European Parliament, would ban officials involved with the case from entering the EU and freeze any bank accounts they have inside the 27-nation bloc.
At the end of last year, Mr Khodorkovsky, once Russia's richest man, was sentenced to a further six years in jail on top of an existing eight-year prison term that he has been serving out since 2003 on fraud charges many in the West believe are politically-motivated.
Russian magazine The New Times reported on Monday that the list of officials being drawn up by the European Parliament in retaliation was likely to include Mr Putin, Igor Sechin, a deputy prime minister, as well as state investigators, prosecutors and judges.
The sanctions are being pushed by Kristiina Ojuland, an Estonian MEP.
"Europe will stop at nothing for human rights to be observed in Russia," she told the magazine.
The European Parliament cannot introduce the sanctions on its own but has the power to vote through a detailed resolution recommending that member states implement the sanctions.
Senior Kremlin officials have dismissed the sanctions move as an unfair ploy to put pressure on Russia, predicting it will come to nothing.
Vladimir Kara-Murza Jr.
Member, Federal Political Council
Russian United Democratic Movement "SOLIDARITY"
Vladimir Putin 'to be targeted by EU sanctions' (2)