WASHINGTON – The US government imposed on Wednesday sanctions on Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov – a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin – and four other individuals under the 2012 Magnitsky Act for, among other things, “gross violations of internationally recognized human rights” in Russia, raising to 49 the number of individuals punished under that law.
“Treasury remains committed to holding accountable those involved in the Sergei Magnitsky affair, including those with a role in the criminal conspiracy and fraud scheme that he uncovered,” said the head of the Treasury Department’s foreign assets control office, John Smith.
“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,” he added.
Magnitsky, a Russian attorney and whistleblower, was jailed in Russia and died in a Moscow prison in 2009 after investigating alleged tax fraud perpetrated by the Russian government.
Besides Kadyrov, the Treasury included Alexei Sheshenya, Yulia Mayorova and Andrei Pavlov on the list, all of whom are accused of participating in tax fraud uncovered by Magnitsky, as well as Ayub Kataev, a Chechen security official.
The Treasury statement said that Kataev is responsible for abuses against homosexual men in Chechnia during the first half of 2017.
The US will deny travel visas to the sanctioned individuals and is freezing all assets they may have under US jurisdiction.
The law permits sanctioning people deemed responsible for serious human rights violations against whistleblowers bringing to light illegal acts by Russian officials or defending freedoms and human rights in that country.
The so-called “Magnitsky List” has been a sore point in US-Russian relations, with Putin and other Russian officials lobbying strenuously to get the act overturned.