Chechnya President, Family Banned from Traveling to US

The State Department on Monday announced the president of Chechnya can no longer travel to the U.S.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a statement noted the State Department is "publicly designating" Ramzan Kadyrov under Section 7031(c) of the FY 2020 Department of State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Appropriations Act. Pompeo in his statement notes "Kadyrov's involvement in gross violations of human rights in the Chechen Republic."

"The department has extensive credible information that Kadyrov is responsible for numerous gross violations of human rights dating back more than a decade, including torture and extrajudicial killings," says Pompeo.

An anti-LGBTQ crackdown in the semi-autonomous Russian republic in the North Caucasus began in late 2016.

The U.S. in 2017 sanctioned Kadyrov under the Magnitsky Act, a law that freezes the assets of Russian citizens who commit human rights abuses and prevents them from obtaining U.S. visas. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in a 2018 report noted authorities in the Russian republic have carried out extrajudicial killings and other human rights abuses against LGBTQ Chechens.

Pompeo in his statement references the OSCE report.

"In 2018, the United States and fifteen other nations took the extraordinary step of invoking the OSCE's Moscow Mechanism to create a fact-finding mission into horrific reports of abuses against LGBTI persons, human rights defenders, members of the independent media, and other citizens who ran afoul of Mr. Kadyrov," he said.  "The Moscow Mechanism rapporteur found that 'harassment and persecution, arbitrary or unlawful arrests or detentions, torture, enforced disappearances, and extrajudicial executions' had taken place and that 'a climate of impunity' surrounded these events."

Kadyrov — a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin — has dismissed reports that document the anti-LGBTQ crackdown in Chechnya.

The travel ban that Pompeo announced also apply to Kadyrov's wife and his two daughters.

This article originally appeared in the Washington Blade and is made available in partnership with the National LGBT Media Association.