The U.S. Treasury Department has imposed new sanctions on a Chechen law enforcement agency linked to a crackdown on gay and bisexual men and another official linked to the 2015 assassination of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov. In a press release on Thursday, the department announced new sanctions against the Terek Special Rapid Response Team unit and Chechen official Ruslan Geremeyev, who has been accused of plotting the 2015 assassination of Nemtsov. The sanctions were imposed under the 2012 Magnitsky Act, which allows the U.S. to sanction individuals and groups who commit human rights abuses. The Terek unit, along with its commander Abuzayed Vismuradov, are accused of involvement in a “gay purge” in Chechnya that has seen gay and bisexual men rounded up and imprisoned—and in some cases tortured. “We are focused on holding accountable those responsible for atrocious acts within Russia,” Sigal Mandelker, undersecretary of the Treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in the statement.
Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who himself is under U.S. sanctions, responded to the news Thursday with a post to his Telegram channel mocking the sanctions as “scribblings.” “And to those who artificially make enemies of us, I will suggest that if you have one ounce of manliness in your blood, then you will come visit and we will draw you a Magnitsky List that you will remember for your entire life, and tell your grandchildren about!” he said.