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EU imposes sanctions on Chechen officials for involvement in LGBTQ repressions and extrajudicial killings

The European Union has sanctioned two Chechen officials for their involvement in serious human rights violations in Russia’s Chechnya. This was announced in the Official Journal of the European Union on Monday, March 22.

The EU imposed sanctions against Ayub Kataev, the former chief of police in the city of Argun, as well as Abuzaid Vismuradov, the “Terek” special forces commander and deputy prime minister of the Chechen Republic, who is known for his close links to Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov.

According to the EU, Kataev is responsible for personally overseeing “widespread and systematic persecutions in Chechnya, which began in 2017” and targeted LGBTQ+ people, as well as Kadyrov’s suspected opponents. Similarly, the EU holds Vismuradov responsible for torture, arbitrary arrests, and extrajudicial killings, among other things. The sanctions include a ban on entry into the EU and a freeze on assets held within the union. 

In total, the EU sanctions list includes 11 individuals and four legal entities from various countries.

Abuzaid Vismuradov, Ramzan Kadyrov’s alleged friend and unofficial head of security, was mentioned in a recent investigation into extrajudicial executions in Chechnya by the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta. The report is based on the revelations from Suleiman Gezmakhmaev, a former officer in Chechnya’s Akhmat Kadyrov Police Patrol Service Regiment, who recounts his involvement in arresting and interrogating people who were subsequently executed en masse in 2017. According to Gezmakhmaev, Vismuradov personally directed these killings. 

According to Novaya Gazeta, Ayub Kataev was directly involved in the torture carried out at the so-called “prison for gays” in the Chechen city of Argun in 2017. In December, the UK imposed sanctions on Kataev, as well as the Chechen parliament’s speaker Magomed Daudov and the “Terek” special forces detachment. 

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