Monday, April 17, 2017

Will or Can Putin Bring Kadyrov to Heel?

Paul Goble

            Staunton, April 17 – Ramzan Kadyrov’s oppression of the LGBT community in Chechnya and his threat to punish journalists who write about it have generated support for helping members of that community escape Chechnya and even Russia and for defending independent journalists against such violent attack

            But equally important, the Chechen leader’s behavior is leading some Russians to point the finger of blame for these outrages directly at Vladimir Putin who has routinely dismissed governors for far less justifiable reasons but who seems unwilling or perhaps even unable to do anything about Kadyrov and his Grozny criminal band.

            On the one hand, Putin may calculate that he would offend his “traditionalist” base by doing anything serious against someone who attacks LGBTs. And on the other, he may still believe that Kadyrov is the only bulwark he has against a new full-scale war in the North Caucasus, a war he routinely claims to have won even though it very much continues.

            In the past few days, many Moscow commentators have directed their attention to the ways in which Putin by failing to do anything about Kadyrov in this case is ultimately leading Russians to ask questions about the Kremlin leader rather than just his notorious consigliere in the Caucasus.

            Five of their statements are especially important in this regard:

·         Aleksandr Melman points out that the behavior of the Chechen leader and Putin’s failure to do anything about it shows that Chechnya is now “a second country” that is only nominally within the borders of the Russian Federation (

·         Oleg Kashin notes that Kadyrov feels free to do anything he likes, however notorious, confident that Putin will do nothing to hold him in (

·         Sergey Buntman says that Chechnya is manipulating and to a certain degree controlling the Rusisan leadership rather than as the constitution requires the situation being the other way around (

·         Yulia Latynina says that if any Russian journalist suffers as a result of Chechnya’s threats, that will demonstrate that Putin isn’t the president of Russia any more. Instead, the real ruler or at least the one with the most power is Kadyrov (

·         And Boris Vishnevsky makes the ultimate argument is today’s post-truth and post-political world: he says Russians should be upset that thanks to Putin’s deference to Kadyrov, every Russian is today paying an annual tax tribute to Chechnya of 10 US dollars, far more than is going to any other federal subject (

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