Recent reports stated that the U.S. Treasury Department on Wednesday announced that it has placed Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of Russian Republic of Chechnya, and four other Russians on sanctions under Magnitsky Act of 2012. Kadyrov is known to be one of the closest allies of the Russian President, Vladimir Putin. The Magnitsky Act is a law passed in 2012, which aims to target those linked to the death of a Russian whistleblower, Sergei Magnitsky, a 37-year-old auditor. Magnitsky was in the process of unveiling a large-scale tax fraud when he died while in pre-trial detention. In line with seeking justice for Magnitsky, the law also seeks to go after U.S. officials who may have had any connection to the death of the whistleblower or may have had any benefits out of his death. Sanctions under Magnitsky Act include freezing of assets and banning of American visas to those who appear to be linked to Magnitsky’s death.
Currently, there are 49 names on the list. The Treasury Department’s Director of Foreign Asset Control, John Smith, reiterated that they are committed to using the Magnitsky Act to gross human rights violators in Russia, including those individuals who perpetrate extrajudicial killings and torture among other despicable acts. The five people added to the list with Ramzan Kadyrov are Alexei Sheshenya, Yulia Mayorova, Andrei Pavlov, and Ayub Kataev. The names recently included on the list, Alexei Sheshenya, Yulia Mayorova, and Andrei Pavlov, were involved with the tax fraud Magnitsky was exposing. On the other hand, Chechen Leader, Ramzan Kadyrov and Ayub Kataev were placed on the list considering their gross human rights violations.
While it is still unclear whether Washington’s position with Moscow targets a stronger tie under the Trump administration, sanctions toward the Chechen leader, who is known to have a strong relationship with Putin, might mean an unstable relationship with Russia. Former U.S. president Barrack Obama had already banned Ramzan Kadyrov from entering the United States and froze his assets in 2013. Washington initially avoided a public declaration but the report from the Treasury Department on sanctions against Kadyrov was publicly made on Wednesday.