Monday, August 19, 2019

Jews are Islam’s ‘Main Enemy,’ Chechnya’s Kadyrov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 16 – At a meeting with 150 Jordanian Chechens broadcast on Grozny state television, republic head Ramzan Kadyrov said that “the Prophet had killed Jews more than any other people” because they are “the main enemy of Islam,” the latest display of Kadyrov’s increasing anti-Semitism, something that may cause trouble for his Kremlin patron.

            In reporting this, Israeli specialist on the North Caucasus Avraam Shmulyevich notes that Kadyrov’s words have already brought sharp rejoinder from a leading Chechen opposition blogger but not yet from the Israeli government (

            Blogger Tumsu Abdurkhamanov points out that Muhammed fought only one battle with the Jews but struggled constantly with pagan Arab tribes, a matter of historical fact ( Instead, the Chechen leader is using anti-Semitic propaganda to set Chechens and Jews at odds even though historically they’ve not had problems.

            But the Israeli government so far, Shmulyevich says, has not reacted and may in fact not do so. “In recent years, the Netanyahu government has preferred to close its eyes at the manifestation of official anti-Semitism by the powers that be of the Russian Federation,” including statements by Kadyrov.

              This is hardly the first time Kadyrov has used anti-Semitic and anti-Israel rhetoric. In July, he called Israel “a terrorist organization” ( ; and in 2017, he threatened reprisals on Israel for what he said was its failure to follow the provisions of international law (

            Earlier, to be sure, the Chechen leader adopted a more philosemitic line as in 2013 when he declared that “the Prophet Muhammed was very well disposed to Jews,” an apparent reflection of his hopes at that time for assistance from the Israelis, Shmulyevich says (

            The big question is whether Kadyrov’s current line will get him in trouble with Vladimir Putin and become the occasion for his removal or downgrading – or whether in fact the Kremlin leader views such Kadyrov statements as useful to him and his regime, even if at some level he may not fully subscribe to them. 

Under Proposed Law, Nationality of Northern Peoples Will Depend Ever Less on Their Declarations

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 16 – The 1993 Russian Constitution specifies that any citizen of that country can declare any nationality he or she wants or none at all, an arrangement that presupposes all will be treated equally but that breaks down when some are given benefits because of the nationality they claim.  

            But once members of a particular nationality are given such preferences or benefits, the Russian authorities have an interest in determining who is a member and who is not, much as in the United States officials require more than just a declaration to determine who is a member of a particular Indian tribe or resident of Alaska.

            Unfortunately, there is a danger when the state intervenes and uses measures other than the personal declaration of an individual as to what nationality he or she is a member, there is a great danger for official manipulation with officials increasing or decreasing the number of members of such a community as they see fit.

            That danger is now very much in evidence for the numerically small peoples of the North – see  and – but what occurs with them could easily become a precedent for the treatment of other larger nations. 

            Under Russian law, there are 47 numerically small peoples of the North, Siberia and the Far East who live in 28 of the subjects of the federation and who are given special hunting and fishing rights to preserve their traditional way of life as long as they are in fact living in that way. But some are not, and that creates a problem in determining who should get these benefits.

            Until recently, the authorities had relied primarily on the declarations of individuals. If you said you were a member of this or that nationality, it was generally but not always accepted that you were – and you received benefits. Now, a draft law just approve by the government changes that (

                Under its terms, an individual’s declaration will be checked against the official records of the interior ministry and other government agencies in order to ensure that only people those members of these groups who actually engage in a traditional way of life get the benefits that the government at least nominally provides.

            Officials say that this will prevent anyone from gaming the system and getting benefits he or she doesn’t deserve. But the possibilities for abuse are enormous given that even those from these numerically small nationalities who have moved to larger settlements and who do not engage in traditional economic activity may still do so on occasion.

            Should they be allowed to claim benefits or not? And should others living among them who do practice traditional ways of life but who are not officially members of this or that listed numerically small nation have the right to get those benefits or not?  Officials will now have the power to decide, opening the door to all kinds of disputes and problems.

            Many members of the numerically small peoples of the North welcome greater clarity in decisions about who gets the benefits associated with membership, but some of their number fear that this will come at an unacceptable cost of the loss of their collective identity (

                Valentina Sovkina, a Saami activist from Murmansk Oblast, for example, says that the new registry of members will increase tensions among the various peoples of the region and also lead to splits within the representatives of a single people, with some being viewed as full-fledged members of the nation and others not.

            Those who are not will almost inevitably be pushed away by the others, leading to their exclusion from communal life and quite possibly to assimilation by other groups, thereby weakening the very nation and its way of life that the law itself says it is intended to support and protect.

            That is a serious problem. But an even more serious one is this: Such re-officialization of nationality could easily spread to other groups, especially given that Moscow’s policies regarding language in the non-Russian republics give tangible benefits to Russians while taking them away from non-Russians.

            In that event, the impact of this nominally new but in fact neo-Soviet approach will harm not a few tens of thousands of aboriginal populations but large swaths of the quarter of the Russian population that doesn’t now declare itself to be ethnic Russian. And such a turn of events would certainly spark anger and quite possibly protest.  

‘Do What You Can’ to Stop Moscow’s Repressive Moves toward Dictatorship, Scholars Urge

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 16 – A group of scholars has launched a petition calling on all Russians to do what they can to stoop the rising tide of political repression in their country and to urge the Kremlin to rethink its approach which involves fabrication of criminal cases and other abuses before it is too late.

            The New Times today publishes the document in full ( Among its key passages are the following:

“Before our eyes the practice of fabricating political cases is returning to Russia, a trend which serves as the basis for repressions against dissidents, for beatings, for arrests, and for persecution. Any healthy-minded person need only read the text of Paragraph 212 of the Criminal Code to be convinced that there were no mass disorders or any intention to organize them in Moscow on July 27, August 3, or August 10.”

“Now with the help of fake cases about ‘mass disorders,’ the authorities are seeking to equate the legal right of people with a crime. In the future, they can equate as a call to mass disorders any post, any statement, any expression of disagreement or any attempt to defend your rights.”

The authorities are using other paragraphs of the criminal code in the same fashion, including 212.1 which sets punishments for repeated violation of the rules of holding meetings and 318 which makes a crime the application of force against representatives of the organs of power.

Such misuse of the law “against demonstrators looks especially amoral and cynical” because it was the authorities who used force against the protesters not the other way around. Similar “fabricated cases” have appeared beyond Moscow as well, “in Yekaterinburg and other cities.”

“We conclude that in recent months, the practice of political repressions has taken on a systematic character in Russia and is ever more broadly being used. Young people whose only crime consists in their sharp feeling of justice are becoming the chief victims of this repression. This is the path to dictatorship.”

“We call upon the Russian authorities to reflect and stop the escalation of force toward peaceful citizens and young people. Force inevitably calls forth a response which undermines the chance for a peaceful and positive future for our country. We all upon all people of good will, all who are not indifferent to the future of Russia and for whom civic freedom is dear to exert in any accessible form peaceful resistance to the growing wave of political repression.”

“We call upon all parents to join this campaign. Tomorrow the victims of repression could be your children … We call for the start of an all-Russian civic campaign against political repression.  Pickets, leaflets, graffiti, collective appeals, and daily actions in support of those in jail and against those who are behind such criminal cases or threaten them.”

“We call upon artists, scholars, lecturers, and journalists to begin their public appearances with short declarations about the impermissibility of political repressions and show solidarity with those who are today being subjected to them.”

“Do what you can. This must not be repeated in our country. STOP THE REPRESSIONS.”

            This denunciation of Kremlin policy and appeal for resistance to the dictatorship comes almost 80 years to the day that Fyodor Raskolnikov, a leading Bolshevik who resigned as Soviet ambassador to Bulgaria and issued a stinging denunciation of Stalin’s practices (

            Raskolnikov said “Stalin. You have declared me outside the law. By this action, you have equalized me in rights or more precisely lack therefore with all Soviet citizens who under your power live outside the law. For my part, I am responding in kind – I am returning to you my entry ticket in ‘the kingdom of socialism’ built by You and breaking with your regime.”

            That letter did not cause Stalin to change course. But it did take on a life of its own, first inspiring dissidents who wanted to see socialism with a human face in the 1960s and 1970s and then providing reassurance of the possibilities of resistance to those who concluded in the 1980s that no such possibilities existed.

            One can only hope that Russians will not have to wait that long for the dark night of Putinism to end.