Staunton, Dec. 23 – Following the conviction in Germany of one of his henchmen for murdering a Chechen activist there, Chechnya’s Ramzan Kadyrov has stepped up his campaign of attacking his critics abroad both directly and through the kidnaping of their relatives still in Chechnya. In addition, he has attacked foreign governments for giving these activists sanctuary.
The Kremlin has not criticized his actions in either case. Instead, Putin press spokesman Dmitry Peshkov suggested that while Kadyrov’s attack of Turkish President Erdogan was “emotional,” it was entirely understandable given that the Chechen republic head has lived through two terrible wars.
The nominal cause of Kadyrov’s attack on Erdogan was the erection of a statue of Dzhokar Dudayev, the first president of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, in Turkey. But that is no rarity: More than 30 countries have memorialized Dudayev in one way or another (novayagazeta.ru/articles/2021/12/23/stambulskii-agent-i-chechenskie-killery-proval-operatsii).
Kadyrov’s criticism of Erdogan attracted a certain amount of attention, but far less has gone to the more widespread Kadyrov crime of kidnaping the relatives of his critics in the Chechen diaspora and likely torturing them in the hopes that this will lead Chechens abroad to end their criticism of him and his rule.
In recent weeks, five Chechen emigres have come forward with information about the kidnaping of their relatives by Kadyrov. The most recent of these is Aslan Artusyev, head of the Hamburg-based Human Rights Center Ichkeria (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/371593/, doshdu.com/pjatyj-chechenskij-politjemigrant-zajavil-o-pohishhenii-svoih-rodstvennikov-ljudmi-kadyrova/ and doshdu.com/v-evrope-poprosili-obratit-vnimanie-na-pohishhenija-rodstvennikov-v-chechne/).
Artsuyev says that Kadyrov’s thugs have kidnaped four of his relatives, none of them close and all of whom he has stopped having any relationship with since going into emigration lest precisely this kind of repression happen to them. He rejected the idea that he would in any way change his activities as a result and said it was better to call them “former relatives.”
Three days ago, he posted a video appeal to Putin and other Russian leaders demanding that they enforce the law, likely a forlorn hope given the way in which the Kremlin has defended Kadyrov’s actions or at least passed over them in silence up to now.