us-sanctions 23 July 2020

US imposes sanctions on Chechen leader and family

The US State Department has sanctioned Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov for ‘involvement in gross violations of human rights,’ adding to sanctions imposed by the US Treasury last year and the Organization of Security and Co-operation in Europe (‘OSCE’) in 2018.

‘This designation is due to Kadyrov’s involvement in gross violations of human rights in the Chechen Republic,’ US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement. ‘The Department has extensive credible information that Kadyrov is responsible for numerous gross violations of human rights dating back more than a decade, including torture and extrajudicial killings,’ Pompeo added.

The designation also applies to Kadyrov’s wife and two daughters.

‘Along with many other likeminded nations, the United States has repeatedly raised concerns about reports of Mr. Kadyrov’s violations publicly and privately,’ Pompeo said. ‘We are concerned that Mr. Kadyrov is now using the excuse of the coronavirus pandemic to inflict further human rights abuses on the people of the Chechen Republic.’

43-year-old Kadyrov, a separatist leader and fighter until Russian President Vladimir Putin appointed him president in 2007, hit back at the latest designation with a telegram posting directed at the US Secretary of State.  ‘Pompeo, we accept the fight! The further it goes the more interesting it gets,’ he declared in the post, which showed a picture of Kadyrov posing with a pair of rifles.

‘In 2018, the United States and fifteen other nations took the extraordinary step of invoking the OSCE’s Moscow Mechanism to create a fact-finding mission into horrific reports of abuses against LGBTI persons, human rights defenders, members of the independent media, and other citizens who ran afoul of Mr. Kadyrov,’ Pompeo said. ‘The Moscow Mechanism rapporteur found that “harassment and persecution, arbitrary or unlawful arrests or detentions, torture, enforced disappearances, and extrajudicial executions” had taken place and that “a climate of impunity” surrounded these events.’

Rights advocates accuse Kadyrov of being behind a crackdown on the region’s gay community in which some 100 people have been arrested, tortured and killed. Chechen officials have denied the allegations and Moscow says that a federal probe did not confirm the charges.

In December 2017, the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (‘OFAC’) designated Kadyrov under the Magnitsky Act.