Monday, April 24, 2017

Is Putin Going to Be Remembered as the Man Who Allowed Chechnya to Conquer Russia?

Paul Goble

            Staunton, April 24 -- Yuliya Latynina says it is quite possible that “Putin will go down in history as the man under whom Russia was conquered by Chechnya” given the Kremlin leader’s reaction to Ramzan Kadyrov’s actions regarding LGBT people in his republic and his threats against those who exposed his crimes (

            For years, many Russian and Western writers have pointed to Putin’s incredible support for Kadyrov and tolerance for his outrageous behavior – the “disappearances” of his opponents, the repression of his people, and his ability to act in violation of Russian law and constitution – quite literally his “getting away with murder” without consequences.

            On the one hand, many believe that Kadyrov is doing exactly what Putin wants, testing the waters as it were for repressive actions elsewhere; and that may be especially true in the current case given widespread hostility to LGBT people elsewhere in the Russian Federation. (On that, see

            But on the other hand, Kadyrov’s behavior in this case has crossed a line, because Novaya gazeta has documented that Kadyrov has lied in public and appears to have lied to Putin personally about what he has been doing with regard to LGBTs in Chechnya ( and

            Putin can’t afford to have his subordinates lie to him and remain unpunished. To do so not only shows the kind of weakness that no autocrat can afford lest what one of his underlings does spread to others and ever more of them and others too conclude that they also can do the same thing. 

            But even more than that, it raises a question that the Kremlin leader certainly doesn’t want anyone to ask: Is he unwilling or even more is he unable to remove Kadyrov?  If he is unwilling, that is an indictment of Putin’s own viciousness; if the Kremlin leader can’t, that suggests Putin isn’t nearly as all-powerful as he and his acolytes like to believe.

            Latynina’s remark is over the top, but Putin’s behavior in this case in particular makes her words less absurd and easily dismissed than they would have been not long ago.  And consequently, they suggest that unless Putin acts against Kadyrov and soon, it will not only be the Chechen leader’s career but his own that may be in jeopardy.

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