Staunton, January 3 – Chechnya head Ramzan Kadyrov, who earlier announced he would punish and otherwise put pressure on relatives of those who engage in violence, has now extended that idea to relatives of Chechens living abroad who protest his repressive regime, thus transforming many into the republic’s population into hostages in the worst Soviet tradition.
That action is dangerous in and of itself, but it is especially worrisome because it is likely to become a precedent for Vladimir Putin and thus make all Russians with relatives abroad, an increasingly large number given rising emigration, hostages and give the Kremlin leader a means of extending the reach of his repressive regime abroad.
If as seems all too likely Kadyrov’s action will be ignored by most Western governments despite these implications, it is almost certain that the Putin regime and its supporters will see such silence as an implicit acceptance of this outrageous behavior and thus feel confident that Moscow can use this kind of action with impunity.
On December 28, Kadyrov declared that “we have a custom, a brother is responsible for a brother. I have given the order to find out if those [who took part in a December 24 meeting in Vienna protesting his regime’s actions] have a brother, father, or are part of a taip … and why they permit themselves to speak out on the leadership of the republic and the people” (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/275355/grani.ru/War/Chechnya/m.247508.html).
Kadyrov said that the authorities “will use all resources: law, traditions, and religion” against those whose relatives are demonstrating and seek to get them to disown them, a serious demand in a family-based society like that of Chechnya. “If [such people] do not take decisions on their own, we will demand them.”