Sergei Magnitsky
A woman holds a placard with a portrait of late Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky during an unauthorised rally in Moscow (Reuters)

The Kremlin has threatened to retaliate as the US published a list of Russian citizens targeted by sanctions under the so-called Magnitsky Act.

The act is named after Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who died in a Russian prison after he was beaten up and denied medical treatment for pancreatitis.

The act bans individuals said to be involved in his death, along with others accused of human rights abuses, of entering the US. Financial sanctions are also imposed on those blacklisted.

About 60 people were believed to be on the list that was presented before the US congress for ratification. However in the end, only 18 individuals have been eventually named.

"The appearance of any lists will doubtless have a very negative effect on bilateral Russian-American relations," said President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov ahead of the publication.

"Of course, Moscow will react [to the publication] and our American partners know that very well," added foreign minister Sergey Lavrov.

"I don't think they've chosen good timing since the American national security adviser is coming to Moscow to bring President Obama's message and vision for the prospects of broader cooperation."

US national security adviser Thomas Donilon is due to fly to Moscow to meet Russia's top security official Nikolai Patrushev over the weekend.

The Kremlin already announced it has drawn up a counter-list of US officials accused of abusing fundamental human rights and freedoms, who will be similarly banned from entering Russia and will have their assets in the country frozen.

According to Russia Today, the Kremlin's list first included 71 names but was enlarged to more than 100. 

Magnitsky was arrested in 2008 on tax evasion charges after exposing the embezzlement of $230m (£150m) by Russian officials who have since been promoted.

Despite Magnitsky's death, Russia opened a posthumous trial against him. The late lawyer's family dismissed it as a mockery of justice.