Staunton, August 3 – Chechen head Ramzan Kadyrov is nothing more than “Putin’s pawn,” Mansur Sadulayev says; and any failure to recognize that fact serves the Kremlin leader’s interests because it allows Putin to avoid responsibility for his crimes and to use Kadyrov as a scarecrow to cow Russians into obedience.
Sadulayev, the Sweden-based head of VAYFOND, “the only Chechen organization which openly helps people whom the Putin regime in the form of Kadyrov persecutes” abroad, tells Radio Liberty’s Dmitry Volchek that his group has been providing legal assistance to Chechens for the past three years (kavkazr.com/a/ramzan-prosto-peshka/30090272.html).
Kadyrov, acting for Putin, the Chechen activist says, has promised to keep track of and take revenge on his critics wherever they may be, an effort that involves sending criminals into Europe to undermine the willingness of countries to take in Chechen refugees generally and attacking and even killing those who speak out against Putin and Kadyrov.
Kadyrov’s agents present themselves as “real refugees” in order to get into Europe and then behave in ways that undermine all Chechens abroad. Not only do they continue to travel back and forth to Chechnya, but such people know that if they are returned to Russia/Chechnya, they will be rewarded rather than punished.
The actions of such people are achieving what Putin and Kadyrov want, Sadulayev says. Ever fewer European countries want to take in Chechen refugees and ever more of them are willing to take seriously Moscow’s trumped-up charges of terrorism against these refugees and extradite them back to the Russian Federation.
In addition to providing legal assistance to those who are victims of this process, the activist says, VAYFOND seeks to expose the agents of Putin and Kadyrov so that everyone will know what is going on and the activities of these agents will be restricted before they can do anymore damage.
According to Sadulayev, “Kadyrov is only a pawn, a man whom the Russian occupation administration in the Chechen Republic put in place. That administration could put anyone else in the same job with the same results.” For most of his life, “Russia is the enemy and the Chechen Republic is my country.”
“I defended my people not because I like war; no normal person can like war … I lost my father in 2000; I was 14 when they killed him. However, when they attack you, I consider it normal for someone to defend himself.” Now, I am doing the same thing, Sadulayev says: “I am defending the right of my people for freedom and self-determination.”
Now, it is necessary to use non-violent methods to do so, he continues. “Our people has lost very many of its members including its best. To continue armed struggle or to begin it again is incorrect … The best method is to struggle without using force.” The powers in Russia and Chechnya now find it much harder to counter that.
The recent case in which a 16-year-old Chechen blogger as forced to make a statement of apology on Chechen television demonstrates this, Sadulayev says. Had the young man fought with arms in his hands, the powers could have simply killed him without difficulty. But by acting as he did, he forced those in power to spread his ideas in the name of fighting them.
Putin and Kadyrov understand “that if the people see that there is a chance to struggle against this power by such methods they risk losing their power. We see that with each year, the number of critics is becoming larger. Of course, for this time is needed, not months but years.” That doesn’t mean people should just wait. They must struggle in this way now.
But among the first things Chechens and others must recognize, Sadulayev continues, is that Putin is the problem, not Kadyrov. “I think that Putin even forces [Kadyrov] to do what he does. Kadyrov is an individual who is after all only a Russian bureaucrat who in his declarations threatens America, Georgia, Turkey and Ukraine. Putin could quickly stop him.”
“In no way do I want to say that Kadyrov is a good guy,” the Chechen activist concludes, “but Kadyrov is only a result and not a cause,” a clever tactic by the Kremlin to suggest that “Putin isn’t so terrible” and that “the problem is with Kadyrov and not with Putin.”