Saturday, January 23, 2016

Kadyrov Feels He has Carte Blanche and That Makes Him Dangerous, Analyst Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 23 – Ramzan Kadyrov forced the Kremlin to choose between himself and the Russian opposition, Abbas Gallyamov says. The Kremlin chose the Chechen leader, and now he feels that he has carte blanche to do whatever he wants. Given that he doesn’t feel constrained by law, Kadyrov may very well follow through on his threats.

            And that possibility, the Bashkir analyst suggests, is especially dangerous because as a result “now, for the first time in a long time, the nationality question has become part of the order of the day,” with the possibility of clashes not just between Kadyrov and the Russian opposition but between Russians and non-Russians as well.

            Gallyamov’s conclusions are cited by Elizaveta Mayetnaya and Andrey Vinokurov as the conclusion of a “Gazeta” article on the demonstration yesterday in Grozny in support of Kadyrov and what that meeting and the statements made at and around it means for the Russian opposition and for Russia as a whole (

            Kadyrov did not attend the meeting in Grozny, but his aides expanded on his earlier threats, naming names of those they consider “traitors” who should be punished and excluded from Russian political life.

            In many ways, the most disturbing of these statements came from Adam Delimkhanov, a Duma deputy whom Kadyrov earlier declared would be his eventual successor.  He declared that he had “enemies lists” in his possession that that “whoever they are and wherever they are ... they will answer for” their actions and words.

            “They will answer according to the law,” the deputy told the crowd; “and not by the law” if necessary. “They can be located as well outside the Russian Federation, but in other countries. We will not apply their laws because to traitors there can be only one approach and that is as traitors.”  He ended by shouting “Allahu Akbar!”

            Among those attacked and especially viciously was Lyudmila Alekseyeva, the head of the Moscow Helsinki Group and the grande dame of the Russian human rights community. Not only had Kadyrov’s news agency posted an ugly caricature of her in advance, but some participants in the meeting carried it as a poster.

            Alekseyeva “was among the first,” the two “Gazeta” journalists write, to call for Kadyrov’s ouster after he called opposition figures “enemies of the people” and “traitors.”  Consequently, it is perhaps not surprising that she was singled out by Kadyrov and his supporters.

            Alekseyeva has been and remains fearless, and like other rights activists and opposition figures was not intimidated by these latest attacks. But some like Gallyamov are saying that this time the threats may be more serious, especially given that Kadyrov raised the ante still further in comments on the LifeNews portal after the Grozny meeting.

            Talking about Putin’s opponents, Kadyrov said that “they are not citizens of Russia; they are shameful. These devils should not be in Russia, and I declare war in every sense of this word.” And he added that no one should be allowed “to try to conduct a policy directed at the collapse of our sovereign state.”

            And declaring that he is “a soldier and is prepared to assume all responsibility that there won’t be any such devils among us,” Kadyrov called on “all patriots” of Russia to strike out at such people.

            Commenting on these remarks, Moscow political analyst Aleksey Makarkin said that he was concerned that Kadyrov’s words may not have greater consequences than earlier because “after the murder of Nemtsov, everything has acquired a much more serious character.”

            Kadyrov has positioned himself as “Putin’s man,” Makarkin continued, but “for the current powers that be, he is at one and the same time a resource and a threat.” He’s needed for fighting in the Donbas or talking to the Jordanian king, but “there is a sense htat with a change in policy the need for him is declining.”

            Moreover, there are the problems that will arise when one of Kadyrov’s men, Zaur Dadayev, is brought to trial in the Nemtsov case. For the Chechen leader, his ability or inability to defend his man is “a question of prestige.”

            “It is possible,” the Moscow commentator says, “that Kadyrov now wants to be used at the federal level in a new capacity, for example as a defender against all ‘American criminals.” No one in Moscow wants two offend him, but most there would like to “limit or localize” his activities.”

            Duma speaker Sergey Naryshkin suggested a few days ago that Kadyrov should be more careful in what he says, and no senior Russian official attended the Grozny demonstration despite Kadyrov’s effort to portray it as an “all-Russian” action. But the evening before, the top ranks of United Russia were shown in a picture backing Kadyrov.

            It is perhaps the case that most people in Moscow would be happy if the Kadyrov issue would simply go away, but for the time being, he and it aren’t going anywhere, Makarkin said, and thus Kadyrov’s threats of legal and extra-legal action can’t be dismissed out of hand. For better or worse, “Ramzan is something completely serious.”

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