United States bans anti-gay Chechnya leader for 'extrajudicial killing' and 'torture'

Foreign ministry pledges ‘mirror reply’ to new US sanctions on Russia

Foreign ministry pledges ‘mirror reply’ to new US sanctions on Russia

Russian Federation was considering retaliation on Thursday for the United States imposing sanctions on the Kremlin-backed leader of southern Russia's Chechnya region, Ramzan Kadyrov.

"Today, the United States is taking a strong stand against human rights abuse and corruption globally by shutting these bad actors out of the USA financial system", Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said in a statement.

Adopted by the US Congress in December 2012, the Magnitsky Act allows the United States to withhold visas and freeze financial assets of Russian individuals and companies over alleged human rights violations.

News broke earlier this year of the torture and killing of gay and bi men in Chechnya. A spokesman for Kadyrov denied the reports and insisted there were no gay people in Chechnya.

The new sanctions also target Mukhtar Hamid Shah, a Pakistani surgeon specializing in kidney transplants who Pakistani police believe is involved in the trafficking of human organs. All told, the US has targeted 49 Russians under that law.

Donald Trump Jr., son of President Donald Trump, has said he discussed the Magnitsky Act and the adoption law with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya a year ago during an unusual campaign-season meeting that has been examined as part of the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and potential collusion with Trump's campaign. He was detained in 2008 and accused of conspiracy and abatement for tax evasion.

Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO of GLAAD, wrote in a statement today, "Sanctioning those responsible for the horrendous anti-LGBTQ persecution in Chechnya, including Ramzan Kadyrov, is a step towards holding human rights abusers accountable for their atrocities and was a needed action to show that human rights must be prioritized above the personal politics of this administration".

The law, named for a Russian whistleblower who died in pre-trial detention, prohibits transactions between sanctioned individuals and Americans.

Under the Global Magnitsky Act, Trump sanctioned Gulnara Karimova, the daughter of the former Uzbekistan leader Islam Karimova, as well as the son of Russia's prosecutor general, Artem Chayka.

It had been unclear whether US President Donald Trump would continue to target people under the law, which now has placed sanctions on 49 Russians.

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