WASHINGTON, D.C. – Washington added the head of the Russian southern republic of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, to its sanctions blacklist, accusing him of alleged “numerous human rights violations”, while restrictions were also imposed on his family. The State Department put Kadyrov on a list barring him from entering US territory, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement on Monday, according to RT.
The US official added his agency has “extensive credible information” that the Chechen leader was supposedly behind “numerous gross violations of human rights” committed over more than a decade, including “extrajudicial killings”.
The statement did not delve further into these accusations but mentioned what it called “horrific reports of abuses against LGBTI persons” in the southern Russian republic – something that the Chechen authorities have repeatedly denied.
“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,” the statement read.
The US authorities did not limit themselves to imposing sanctions against Kadyrov and introduced similar restrictions against his wife, Medni, and his two eldest daughters – Aishat and Karina (aka Khadizhat).
“Today’s action serves to notify Mr. Kadyrov that his involvement in gross violations of human rights has consequences, both for him and his family,” the State Department warned, adding that Washington would use “all tools” to “ensure accountability” of all those it considers involved in human rights violations.
The news prompted a swift response from the Chechen leader, who posted a photo of himself holding two machine guns while standing in an armory.
“Pompeo, we accept the fight! This will get interesting,” he wrote.
The Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, also reacted to the US move by saying that “it would be difficult to provide a mirror response, but we will come up with something”.
It is not the first time the Chechen leader has been sanctioned by Washington. The US Treasury Department already targeted Kadyrov with financial sanctions back in 2017, accusing him of alleged “human rights violations” amid reports about an “anti-gay purge”.
A year later, Kadyrov stated that the situation with human rights in Chechnya is better than in the US itself. Replying to a critical remark by then-acting State Secretary John Sullivan, Kadyrov noted that Chechnya has an extremely low rate of murder, robbery, rape, abduction and other street crime, and prioritizes equality by ethnicity and religion.
The eldest daughter of the head of Chechnya, the head of the fashion house Firdaws Aishat Kadyrova expressed bewilderment at the inclusion of her in the American blacklist.
“I always believed that my modest moral support for my father remains unnoticed, and I could not imagine that I would become so famous in a distant country across the ocean that my name would be included in some of their lists,” Kadyrova wrote on her Instagram page.
Aishat Kadyrova also noted this fact allowed her to once again be sure of the correctness of her actions.
“Always and in everything I was, am and will be my father’s faithful assistant… I follow the exclusively correct path of Akhmat-Haji Kadyrov, and in the KRA team, I am the happiest person,” she concluded.