The U.S. State Department issued sanctions against Chechen Republic of the Russian Federation head Ramzan Kadyrov Monday over allegations of gross human rights violations. “The Department has extensive credible information that Kadyrov is responsible for numerous gross violations of human rights dating back more than a decade, including torture and extrajudicial killings,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement. The sanctions apply to Kadyrov’s wife and daughters, as well.
Kadyrov has been on the State Department’s radar for years, having begun an investigation into the alleged human rights abuses against journalists, LGBTQ people, and others in 2018. Pompeo said there are concerns that Kadyrov could be using the coronavirus pandemic to perpetuate the human rights abuses. Kadyrov responded to the U.S. sanctions on social media site Telegram with a photo of himself holding machine guns in an armory. “Pompeo, we accept the fight. This will get interesting,” Kadyrov wrote.