Ramzan Kadyrov, the Kremlin-backed leader of southern Russia’s restive Chechnya region, on Wednesday was hit with financial sanctions by the United States over alleged human rights violations.
A second Chechen official, law enforcement officer Ayub Kataev, was designated for sanctions under a U.S. law specific to human rights violations in Russia, over his alleged involvement in a campaign against homosexuals in Chechnya that provoked international outrage.
The U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control charged that Kadyrov “oversees an administration involved in disappearances and extra-judicial killings.’’
The U.S. statement cited a Kadyrov opponent believed to had been killed on the leader’s orders, “after making allegations of torture and ill-treatment taking place in Chechnya, including alleged torture carried out by Kadyrov personally.’’
Three other Russians, Yulia Mayorova, Andrei Pavlov and Alexei Sheshenya, were also sanctioned under the 2012 Magnitsky Act on allegations that they were involved in a lucrative fraud scheme exposed by Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky.
Shortly after he revealed the existence of the scheme, Magnitsky was thrown in a Moscow jail and died there under mysterious circumstances.
Dozens of Russians have been sanctioned under the Magnitsky Act.
Relations between the U.S. and Russia have in the last few years plummeted to their lowest point since the Cold War.
The U.S. has sanctioned numerous Russian officials and businesses over Russia’s annexation of neighbouring Ukraine’s Crimea region in 2014 and its continuing support for rebel groups waging war in Ukraine’s east.