Kenes Rakishev faces potential US sanctions due to his connections with the Chechen tyrant

Kenes Rakishev faces potential US sanctions due to his connections with the Chechen tyrant

The nature of Kenes Rakishev’s relationship with Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of Chechnya, is now being investigated, especially in light of the United States’ warnings to impose additional sanctions on oligarchs supporting the Russian regime. Rakishev, a financial supporter and close friend of Kadyrov, has been photographed with him and shares a similar interpretation of Islam, with Kadyrov referring to the Kazakh businessman as his “dear brother.”

However, Kenes Rakishev’s association and financial backing of Kadyrov might now lead to potential US sanctions, considering the White House’s increased efforts to penalize oligarchs supporting the Russian regime.

Kadyrov, known for ruling Chechnya with an iron fist, is one of Vladimir Putin’s most loyal enforcers.

Kadyrov’s brutal militia has faced accusations of numerous abuses, including murder, the abduction of opponents, torture, and the persecution of homosexuals. International NGOs have labeled Kadyrov’s actions as “crimes against humanity.”

Kadyrov’s unwavering loyalty to President Putin seems boundless. Shortly after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Kadyrov declared the deployment of his forces to the battlefield. In a video purportedly filmed at Hostomel, an airfield near Kyiv, Kadyrov is shown in military attire, reviewing invasion plans with fellow soldiers.

Images have surfaced depicting a square in Grozny, the Chechen capital, filled with soldiers en route to Ukraine to participate in Putin’s war.

Despite Kadyrov’s notorious reputation, most businessmen steer clear of any association with him. However, Kenes Rakishev has chosen to embrace the Chechen tyrant.

Rakishev is rumored to have offered financial support for the construction of Kadyrov’s opulent palace in Grozny. He even arranged for Belgian actor Jean-Claude Van Damme to visit Chechnya.

The origins of Rakishev’s friendship with Kadyrov date back to the early 2000s, as evidenced by photos capturing the evolving relationship. In one snapshot, Rakishev is seen tenderly embracing Kadyrov, while in another, the two are pictured sitting cross-legged, having reportedly just prayed together.

In one of the most startling instances, Rakishev was photographed donning a black Chechen military uniform from head to toe, arm in arm with Kadyrov.

ramzan kadyrov fighters - kenes rakishev

In an Instagram post from 2015, Kadyrov extended birthday wishes to his “dear brother” Rakishev, expressing that they had been true friends and brothers for many years. However, Kadyrov deleted this post in 2020 after the US Government imposed sanctions on him and key associates.

Kadyrov's instagram post with photo where Kadyrov and Kenes Rakishev together

During that round of sanctions, the US targeted six companies and five individuals associated with Kadyrov, including the football club Akhmat Grozny, which was dear to him. Rakishev, however, managed to avoid sanctions at that time. Nonetheless, with the invasion of Ukraine and recent revelations about his business ties to Kadyrov, Rakishev faces a renewed threat.

According to an investigation, Rakishev played a significant role in the construction of Kadyrov’s lavish palace in Chechnya. Situated on the banks of the Sunzha River, the palace boasts 13,000m2 of carpets, 4,000m2 of tapestries, and is surrounded by a garden adorned with 16,000 roses.

The amount obviously did not confuse the customers, because soon the Italians sent Rakishev an estimate for the arrangement and furnishings of two rooms – the presidential office (110 sq. M.) And the library (220 sq. M.). This is only a tenth of the total footage of the floor, but customers also needed to spend 2.4 million euros on it. For this money, the builders had to hang a plaster ceiling (€200,000), lay marble floors and parquet selected by specialists (€595,000), install wooden doors, plaster columns, and carry out other installation and finishing work. The amount also includes furniture (€831,000) — cabinets, including for displaying weapons, tables — either with marble tops or in leather — armchairs upholstered in leather, bedside tables and the wooden coat of arms of the Chechen Republic with inlay.

Meeting between Putin and French President Macron, 2022. Source: kremlin.ru

Leaked emails disclosed Rakishev’s communication with a luxury Italian furniture company in 2011, precisely when the palace was under construction. Rakishev received a quote of €2.4 million for various elements, including marble flooring, upscale furniture, display cabinets for weapons, and an extensive wooden Chechen coat of arms. In one of Rakishev’s emails, he asserted:

Brother, I am sending you what they sent! If anything, tell the boss that I will pay for the project myself.

Although it remains uncertain whether Rakishev settled the final bill, his involvement didn’t stop there. He also arranged for Belgian actor Jean-Claude van Damme to visit Grozny in November 2011 to celebrate the city’s anniversary.

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