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‘Clumsy PR stunt’: Russian Foreign Ministry ridicules ‘baseless’ US sanctions against Chechen SPORTS & charity entities

‘Clumsy PR stunt’: Russian Foreign Ministry ridicules ‘baseless’ US sanctions against Chechen SPORTS & charity entities
Moscow has brushed off, as an “unsubstantiated” PR move, Washington's targeting of several Chechen sports organizations, and a charity, in yet another sanctions package aimed against the republic’s governor, Ramzan Kadyrov.

The US authorities have found “no other way” to mark international Human Rights Day than to slap some Russians with another batch of penalties, the Russian Foreign Ministry noted in a Friday statement, referring to a US Treasury announcement the day before.

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The ministry said the move was nothing more than a “clumsy PR stunt” aimed at portraying Russians as supposed “human rights violators.” While branding the restrictions as “unsubstantiated” and “baseless”, the ministry also jokingly noted that the US officials apparently “had no shortage of imagination” since they picked on a soccer club of all things.

US officials rolled out yet another sanctions list on Thursday, that was aimed at people “engaged in serious human rights abuses” in a number of nations ranging from Haiti and Yemen to Russia. The head of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov, was named on the list.

Washington has already imposed sanctions against Kadyrov, as early as in 2017. So, this time, the US officials decided to focus on entities they said were either “owned or controlled” by the Chechen leader. Although, their choice appeared to be somewhat odd.

The list includes Chechnya’s ‘Akhmat Grozny’ soccer club, which indeed lists Kadyrov as ‘honorary president’ but is currently headed by another person. Absolute Championship Akhmat — one of Europe’s leading mixed martial arts promotions founded and owned by Chechen businessman, Mairbek Khasiev - also made it into America’s blacklist among other entities.

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The US oalso decided to impose sanctions against the Akhmat Kadyrov Foundation – a charity with a stated mission of aiding the poor.

The Russian foreign ministry also said that US officials had already imposed restrictions on a swimming pool in Moscow. An open-air pool called ‘Chayka’ located in central Moscow indeed appeared on a US blacklist in 2016 when American officials slapped sanctions on companies affiliated with several Russian banks.

Kadyrov himself described the latest US move as nothing short of “lunacy.” “America started combating sports, wives, children, charities, athletes and horses,” he wrote in a Telegram post, referring particularly to the fact that his horse trainer was also on the US list. “Human history has never seen anything more absurd,” he added.

The US, however, was not the only nation to slap Russia with sanctions this week. The UK announced on Thursday it was expanding its “Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime” too. London, however, decided to focus on Chechen officials and law enforcement, since its list included Chechnya’s parliament speaker and the republic’s foreign minister and his deputy. A Russian National Guard special forces unit named ‘Terek’ also got a mention.

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The Russian foreign ministry responded by saying that the only thing this “baseless” decision demonstrates is London’s unwillingness to abandon political confrontation with Moscow.

The news comes shortly after the UN Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of the unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights. Alena Duhan issued a damning assessment of the role unilateral sanctions have played during the Covid-19 pandemic. She suggested a set of guidelines to alleviate human suffering resulting from the sanctions, which particularly called on nations to avoid targeting humanitarian organizations or otherwise obstructing their work through various restrictions.

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