EU sanctions Russia officials over LGBTQ rights abuses in Chechnya
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EU sanctions Russia officials over LGBTQ rights abuses in Chechnya

The EU sanctioned two Russian individuals Monday for their alleged human rights abuses including persecuting, detaining and torturing LGBTQ individuals in the Chechen Republic.

Officials from the Chechen government have been repeatedly accused by international governments and human rights groups, like Human Rights Watch, of detaining, torturing and extrajudicially executing members of the Chechen LGBTQ community. In February leaked Chechen government documents obtained by Novaya Gazeta confirmed suspicions that Chechen police were involved with the disappearance of twenty-seven gay men in 2017.

The EU said that many LGBTQ individuals were detained under the pretense of opposing Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who has been sanctioned by the US for human rights abuses. The sanctions listed in the EU Official Journal blacklisted Aiub Vakhaevich Kataev, Head of Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs for the city of Argun, and Abuzaid Dzhandarovich Vismuradov, who is the commander of the Special Rapid-Response Unit Team “Terek,” a Russian National Guard unit known to have been an active part of the systemic persecution of LGBTQ individuals since at least 2017.

The EU Journal accuses Kataev of “oversee[ing] the activities of local state security and police agencies … directed against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons,” and says that he is “responsible for serious human rights violations in Russia, in particular torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, as well as arbitrary arrests and detentions and extrajudicial or arbitrary executions and killings.” The Journal also accuses Vismuradov of the same human rights violations as Kataev, but also states that “Vismuradov personally supervised and took part in torturing detainees.”

The EU’s latest sanctions come approximately three weeks after it sanctioned four other Russian individuals involved with arbitrary arrests and repression of freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression. The EU reiterated the importance of condemning international human rights violations, saying, “Respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights are fundamental values of the Union and its Common Foreign and Security Policy.”