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Russia's Chechnya ruler sanctioned by US for human rights violations

Published: Updated:

The United States on Monday slapped the regional strongman leader of Russia’s republic of Chechnya with sanctions over human rights violations.

Ramzan Kadyrov, 43, has run Chechnya like his personal fiefdom, relying on his security forces to quash dissent. International human rights groups have accused Kadyrov and his lieutenants of abductions, torture and killings of their opponents.

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In a statement announcing the sanctions, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pointed at “extensive credible information that Kadyrov is responsible for numerous gross violations of human rights dating back over a decade, including torture and extrajudicial killings.”

Pompeo said the restrictions would apply to Kadyrov’s wife and two daughters and he encouraged US allies to take similar measures.

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The Kremlin has relied on Kadyrov to stabilize Chechnya after two separatist wars, providing generous federal subsidies and dismissing international criticism of his rule.

The Kremlin also has stood by Kadyrov amid Russian opposition claims of his involvement in the 2015 killing of prominent Kremlin critic Boris Nemtsov, which the Chechen leader has rejected. An officer in Chechnya’s security forces was convicted of shooting Nemtsov on a bridge adjacent to the Kremlin and received a 20-year prison term.