Facebook Bans Chechen Leader's Account As Part Of US Sanctions

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“We became aware and have now confirmed that the accounts appear to be maintained by or on behalf of parties who appear on the U.S. Specially Designated Nationals List.”

Head of the Chechen Republic Ramzan Kadyrov’s Instagram and Facebook accounts were deactivated after his name was added to a United States sanctions list.

Kadyrov, 41, had about 4 million followers on Instagram and 750,000 followers on Facebook. He became active on social media in recent years, and mostly posted random things and lavished praise on Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Kadyrov also reportedly used the platform to make death threats against critics of Putin and the Kremlin. 

A Facebook spokeswoman said Kadyrov was added to the sanctions list and the social media company was legally obligated to act on it.

“We became aware and have now confirmed that the accounts appear to be maintained by or on behalf of parties who appear on the U.S. Specially Designated Nationals List and thus, subject to U.S. trade sanctions. For this reason, Facebook has a legal obligation to disable these accounts,” the statement read.

The Russian national’s name, along with four others, was recently added to the list after he was accused of human rights abuses such as acts of torture, kidnapping and murder.

His name was also added to the Department of Treasury’s blacklist, which means any of his assets held by U.S. financial institutions are frozen.  

Now, Kadyrov and the Kremlin are demanding answers.

The head of the Chechen Republic filed a complaint with Roskomnadzor, the media and telecommunications regulator in Russia.

Leonid Levin, the head of the Russian parliament’s information technologies and communications committee, said the move was an attack on freedom of speech.

The sanctions were imposed under the 2012 Magnitsky Act. The act allows the U.S. to freeze assets of Russian officials considered responsible for human rights abuses.

Alexei Volin, Russia’s deputy minister of communications and mass media, also said the decision might have consequences.

However, the defiant leader reportedly joined Chechnya-based social network Mylistory where he said he will post important “news and photos.”

Interestingly, several other names that are on the list have not yet been deactivated from social media. Some notable names include President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela and his Vice President Tareck El Aissami, who still have active Facebook accounts.

Thumbnail Credits: Reuters, Maxim Shemetov

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