The United States has slapped additional sanctions on Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov "for numerous gross violations of human rights."
The U.S. State Department said on July 20 that for more than a decade the Moscow-backed leader of Russia's North Caucasus region of Chechnya had been responsible for abuses including torture and extrajudicial killings.
Washington already has multiple layers of sanctions against Kadyrov and his associates. The latest designation expands those sanctions to Kadyrov's wife and two daughters, including visa bans.
"Today's action serves to notify Mr. Kadyrov that his involvement in gross violations of human rights has consequences, both for him and his family, and that the United States is committed to using all the tools at our disposal to ensure accountability for those who engage in this abhorrent behavior," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.
Washington urged other countries to take similar action against Kadyrov and his family.
Rights groups and international watchdogs have linked Kadyrov to horrific abuses against LGBTI persons, human rights defenders, the media, and any dissent against the Chechen leader's authoritarian and corrupt rule.
The State Department said it was also concerned Kadyrov is now using the coronavirus pandemic as an excuse to inflict further human rights abuses on the people of Chechnya.
Kadyrov responded to the latest sanctions on his Telegram channel.
"Pompeo, we accept the fight! This is going to be interesting!" he wrote under a picture of him holding two machine guns in an arms depot.