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Chechen leader mocks Latvia’s entry ban, derides it as effort to curry favor with West

February 26, 12:41 UTC+3 GROZNY

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who has been banned from entering Latvia, said the Baltic state’s parliament decision is a move to pander to the West

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Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov

© Yelena Afonina/TASS

GROZNY, February 26. /TASS/. Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who has been banned from entering Latvia, said the Baltic state’s parliament decision is a move to pander to the West.

Earlier reports said Latvia’s Foreign Ministry banned entry for 49 foreigners on the so-called Magnitsky List, including Kadyrov.

Kadyrov has instead invited all Latvian citizens to visit Chechnya. "Well, if Latvia announces sanctions, we like people educated based on traditions and values, and invite all Latvians to visit Chechnya," he wrote on Telegram.

"I know that the Saeima made the decision on the sanctions not for the sake of the Latvian people’s interests but due to its wish to please the "Elephant." So, what else should the Pug do?" Kadyrov said, referring to a famous fable by Russian poet Ivan Krylov.

The Chechen leader joked that visiting Latvia was his lifetime dream. "Day and night, at work and at home I dreamt of visiting Riga. Just when I was able to make two or three days available for this, Latvia’s Saeima says that it banned me from entering. I’m so disappointed I cannot even sit still."

Earlier in February, the Latvian parliament endorsed legislation mirroring the US Magnitsky Act. Some 60 lawmakers voted in favor of the initiative, seven MPs rejected it and three others abstained.

The Magnitsky Act was signed into law in November 2012. The legislation was named after Sergey Magnitsky, an auditor working for Hermitage Capital Management, a British investment fund, who was arrested on charges of creating illegal tax evasion schemes for the fund. While under investigation, Magnitsky accused a number of Russian officials of corruption. In November 2009, he died in the Matrosskaya Tishina pre-trial detention center in Moscow, as stated by representatives of Hermitage Capital, after being denied essential medical care.

The law envisages sanctions against a number of Russian officials, including employees of law enforcement agencies, whom Washington holds responsible for Magnitsky’s death. In addition, it imposes unilateral US sanctions on Russian officials, who, according to US authorities are responsible for human rights abuses in their native country. The sanctions range from US visa denials to financial assets in the US being frozen.

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