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Kadyrov spokesman declines to comment on Magnitsky rumors

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

A spokesman for Ramzan Kadyrov said Saturday it was pointless to comment on rumors that the leader of Russia’s Chechen republic had been included on the classified section of the US’s list of Russian officials facing visa and financial sanctions.

On Friday, the New York Times, citing “people briefed on the list,” claimed that Kadyrov was one of the officials named on the part of the US Magnitsky List that was not revealed to the public, a claim that was picked up by Russian media.

“If official confirmation is given, we will give detailed comments on this issue. For the time being, they are rumors, and it’s not logical or necessary to keep commenting on them,” said Kadyrov’s spokesman Alvi Karimov, adding that it would mean absolutely nothing to Kadyrov to be included on the list, which bars entry to the US for Russians that Washington deems complicit in human rights abuses.

The United States on Friday released the names of 18 Russians to be slapped with visa and financial sanctions under the controversial Magnitsky Act.

No senior federal Russian officials were included in the list published Friday on the website of the US Treasury Department, but a senior US State Department official told reporters that there is a separate classified blacklist of Russians as allowed by the Magnitsky Act.

The State Department official said Russian officials on the classified list are being put only on a visa blacklist, while any US assets they may possess are not being frozen.

“You can’t do an asset ban in secret,” the official said. There had been speculation ahead of the list’s publication that it would include the name of Kadyrov, who has been accused by various rights activists of abusing human rights and instituting a regime of fear.

Critics have accused the Chechen leader of involvement in a string of high-profile killings in recent years, including those of human rights advocate Natalia Estemirova and journalist Anna Politkovskaya. Kadyrov has consistently denied any role in the murders.

The Magnitsky Act was signed into law by Obama on Dec. 14 and is ostensibly designed to punish officials believed to be connected to the death in a Moscow jail of whistleblowing Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in 2009. The scope of the legislation was later broadened to cover a whole range of suspected rights abusers. The officials named on the public list are barred from traveling to the US and any assets they own there will be frozen.

On Saturday, Russia published its own retaliatory list of US officials banned from entering Russia. Like the US list, the Russian list comprises 18 names. Four are listed as having been connected with the US’s infamous Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba, which has seen numerous allegations of abuse and torture by prisoners and rights groups. The rest of the US officials on the list are mostly described as prosecutors and special agents, and are accused of having violated the rights of Russians abroad.

The Russian list also has a classified section, according to a statement published Saturday on the website of the ruling United Russia party.

Philippines News agency

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/asianet/130415/kadyrov-spokesman-declines-comment-magnitsky-rumors