US Sanctions Chechen Strongman Kadyrov, 4 Other Russians

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Ramzan Kadyrov, the Islamic leader of Chechnya, and student of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has been placed on the American "Magnitsky List" by the State Department over the alleged "gay purge" in the troubled region of Russia.

"We will continue to use the Magnitsky Act to aggressively target gross violators of human rights in Russian Federation, including individuals responsible for extrajudicial killings, torture, and other despicable acts", the director of Treasury's Office of Foreign Asset Control, John Smith, said in a statement released Wednesday.

The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) believe Kadyrov is 'responsible for extrajudicial killing, torture, or other gross violations of internationally recognized human rights'.

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United States officials accused Kadyrov of overseeing "an administration involved in disappearances and extrajudicial killings", and that "one or more" of his political opponents were killed at his direction.

The United Nations and human rights groups have decried reports that men suspected of homosexuality have been rounded up and tortured in Chechnya and in some instances killed. "While the USA spills blood all over the world!" Kadyrov's response to the accusations was that there were no gay men in Chechnya.

The sanctions also target Gulnara Karimova, the eldest daughter of the late longtime Uzbek president Islam Karimov, who headed a powerful organized crime syndicate, and Artem Chayka, the son of Russian official Yury Chayka. After accusing Russian officials of carrying out a $230 million tax fraud, he was charged with tax evasion and put in prison, where he died in 2009 at 37.

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The Kremlin-backed leader, accused of personal involvement in repression, torture and extra-judicial killings in the Russian republic, is one of the most prominent officials to be added to the sanctions under the 2012 Act.

In a statement about the new listings, Treasury Department sanctions office director John Smith said the United States "will continue to use the Magnitsky Act to aggressively target gross violators of human rights in Russian Federation, including individuals responsible for extrajudicial killings, torture, and other despicable acts".

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