US Blacklists Chechen Leader Kadyrov for Human Rights Abuses

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov and Russian President Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chechnya’s leader Ramzan Kadyrov in September 2016. Photo: AFP

The United States on Tuesday slapped financial sanctions on Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov, accusing him overseeing a systematic campaign of deadly repression, the Treasury Department announced.

The U.S. also imposed sanctions on the Chechen security official Ayub Kataev, likewise accused of gross violations of human rights and abuses against gay men, as well as three others accused of involvement in the corruption case uncovered by deceased Russian whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky.

Mr. Kadyrov, head of the Chechen Republic, is responsible for disappearances, extra-judicial killings, torture and other violations committed against people seeking to expose government wrongdoing, the Treasury said in a statement.

The move brings to 49 the number of people now subject to U.S. economic sanctions under laws adopted following Mr. Magnitsky’s death while in prison, according to the Treasury.

“We will continue to use the Magnitsky Act to aggressively target gross violators of human rights in Russia, including individuals responsible for extrajudicial killings, torture, and other despicable acts,” said John Smith, who oversees the Treasury Department’s sanctions program.

The sanctions effectively lock their targets out of much of the international banking system and freeze any assets they may have in U.S. jurisdiction.

Under legislation adopted in 2012, the United States targets individuals believed to be tied to a $230 million alleged tax fraud exposed by Mr. Magnitsky, to his subsequent death in custody or to attempts to cover this up.

The law also targets those accused of gross human violations committed in retaliation against people seeking to expose government wrongdoing.

Mr. Kataev, a prison warden, allegedly oversaw the detention and torture of gay men in Chechnya “in the first half of 2017,” among other abuses, the Treasury said.

Washington also sanctioned three Russians: Alexei Sheshenya, whose company the Treasury believes benefited from the tax scam uncovered by Mr. Magnitsky, as well as Yulia Mayorova and Andrei Pavlov, who represented companies which benefited from the scheme.

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