This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
Ramzan Kadyrov, the authoritarian leader of Russia’s North Caucasus region of Chechnya, has declared “sanctions” against U.S. State Secretary Mike Pompeo.
Kadyrov said at a government meeting that was broadcast late on July 23 by Chechnya’s major state television channel that he was rescinding an invitation to Pompeo to visit Chechnya, which he had previously announced online.
“I announce that [Pompeo] will be included in all the sanctions that we have in the republic, to the extent of blocking all his accounts. They did the same against me,” Kadyrov said at a government meeting that was broadcast late on July 23 by Chechnya’s major state television channel.
The announcement comes three days after the United States levied additional targeted sanctions against Kadyrov, his wife, and his two daughters because of “his involvement in gross violations of human rights.”
Washington had already imposed multiple layers of sanctions against Kadyrov and some of his associates in Chechnya.
A former Chechen militant who fought against Russian forces in the first Chechen war, Kadyrov has been accused by Russian and international rights activists of numerous human rights violations, including torture, kidnapping, disappearances, extrajudicial executions, and the assassination of personal and political enemies both in Russia and abroad.
On July 23, Russian President Vladimir Putin awarded Kadyrov the rank of military major general.
Kremlin critics say Putin has turned a blind eye to the alleged abuses and violations of the country’s constitution by Kadyrov because he relies on the former rebel commander to control separatist sentiment and violence in Chechnya, the site of two devastating post-Soviet wars and an Islamist insurgency that spread to other mostly Muslim regions in the North Caucasus.