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The U.S. sanctioned Ramzan Kadyrov’s family members and he isn’t taking it well

Source: Meduza
Press service of the head and administration of the Chechen Republic / TASS / Scanpix / LETA
July 20

The U.S. State Department declared Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of Russia’s repressive Chechen Republic, responsible for human rights violations and imposed sanctions against him, his wife Medni Kadyrova, as well as his older daughters Aishat and Khadizhat. Thus, Kadyrov and his family members were banned from entering the United States. While Kadyrov has been denied entry into the United States ever since he was included on the list of individuals sanctioned under the Magnitsky Act in 2017, these previous sanctions didn’t apply to any members of his family. 

About an hour later

Kadyrov posted a photo of himself holding two machine guns on Telegram, with a caption addressing the U.S. Secretary of State: “[Mike] Pompeo, we accept the fight. Things are about to get more interesting.” The Chechen leader later explained that the machine guns were from the Russian Guard’s arsenal.

An hour and a half after that

Kadyrov posted another picture on Telegram, this time it was a family photo, accompanied by a post addressed to the U.S State Department, in which Kadyrov described himself as the “elected head of the Chechen Republic, who nearly 100 percent of the population voted for.” He then went on to express outrage over the sanctions introduced against his family members: “So maybe I’m a human rights violator a hundred times over, but how do you explain the sanctions against […] my wife and my daughters??? What crimes have they committed, and whose rights have they violated?” At the end of the post, Kadyrov wrote that “the people will vouch” for him. 

July 21

Chechnya’s muftiate declared the U.S. State Department “terrorist organization number 1.” During an emergency session, the Chechen parliament called on the United States Congress to verify the legality of the sanctions against Kadyrov. Chechnya’s Minister of the Press and Information, Kadyrov’s aide Akhmed Dudayev, launched an Instagram flashmob in support of Kadyrov under the hashtag #МыСемьяКРА (“We are the KRA family”). Chechen teachers complained that they were forced to write comments as part of the flashmob. 

Later that day

Kadyrov recorded a video message addressed to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. “As you know, I have been included on yet another sanctions list. It turns out that the U.S. has a lot of them. I was so scared [that] I came to my ancestral village of Benoy. So, Pompeo, come, it’s very beautiful here. Let’s talk and see who’s violating which rights,” Kadyrov said in the video, which the state media channel Grozny TV posted on Instagram. 

July 22

Grozny TV posted several clips of Kadyrov discussing the sanctions on Telegram, in which he attributes them to Chechnya’s position on U.S. conflicts with Muslim countries (“We’re saying the truth, we’re saying: ‘Don’t kill Muslims, don’t destroy countries’.”), calls the U.S. government weaklings (“The U.S. has come up with yet another sanction, to start a war with women […] Ah, you weaklings.”), and makes sarcastic comments (“My children are upset with you...not the ones who came under sanctions, but the ones who didn’t.”). 

July 23

Grozny TV broadcast fragments of a meeting where Kadyrov once again expressed his confusion over the sanctions against his family members: “If I committed a crime, then why are my children there?” He also said that he was withdrawing Mike Pompeo’s invitation to Chechnya and imposing “all the sanctions the republic has” against him. Kadyrov claimed that he had information from the Ukrainian intelligence services, about Pompeo ordering the death of George Floyd, so that Donald Trump would win the U.S. presidential elections (in all likelihood this statement wasn’t meant to be taken seriously: Kadyrov has previously accused Ukraine’s Security Service of spreading disinformation about him, so it’s unlike that he’d consider them a trusted source). 

Ramzan Kadyrov saying that U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo ordered the killing of George Floyd
“Grozny TV”
As an aside: On July 23, Ramzan Kadyrov announced that Russian President Vladimir Putin had awarded him the military rank of major general. The next day, July 24, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov stated that Kadyrov being awarded this rank had no connection to the United States imposing sanctions against him. 

Story by Olga Korelina 

Translation by Eilish Hart