By Yuri Zarakhovich
The interview that Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov gave to U.S. international broadcaster Radio Liberty on August 9, 2009, evokes a famous line by a Russian playwright Evgeni Shvartz: “Pray, hush, Princess! You’re so innocent, you can say awful things!”
Kadyrov blames the West for the war in Chechnya: “The West…wanted to break up the sovereign Russian state through Chechnya.”Why, then did Kadyrov chose to fight the sovereign Russian state at the tender age of 17?
“Because the people were against (Russia). They were forced by Yeltsin, Beresovsky and the like, who sought to break up the Russian Federation the way they had broken up the Soviet Union.”
It was Putin, Kadyrov says, who helped the Chechens see the light and turn sides. Still, Putin publicly pays homage to Yeltsin.. His hatred for democratic reform, rightly or wrongly associated with Yeltsin, is the Kremlin’s inner matter, not to be mentioned openly. Kadyrov just let slip what’s on Putin’s mind.
What else did Kadyrov pick up in the hallways of power?
Says Kadyrov: “They (the West) attack. We defend. The time will come, when we’ll attack, too.”
“Why should we give away South Ossetia, or Abkhazia?” Kadyrov wonders. Well, why, indeed, if Moscow can keep them under whatever disguise: “Let them be sovereign states, independent states, but for Russia they will be allied states,” Kadyrov spells out.
“One thing I really know how to do well is making war. I’m a very good strategist,” Kadyrov adds dreamily. Neighbors, beware!
On July 16, 2009, Natalya Estemirova, a human rights activist, who had angered the authorities with reports of torture, abductions and extrajudicial killings, was discovered with two close-range gunshot wounds to the head in the woods. The human rights community laid the responsibility for the murder on the Chechen President, who claims he is responsible for everything that happens in Chechnya. This is how he comments both the murder and the charges:
“Why should Kadyrov kill a woman whom nobody needed? She never had any honor, dignity, or scruples. Still, I appointed her Head of the (Public) Council. She wouldn’t attend the meetings, or would merely talk all kind of nonsense…So I dissolved that Council. So what is my fault, if they killed Estemirova?”
Is it any wonder then, that on August 11, just two days after Kadyrov said that, two more human right activists–Zarema Sadulayeva and her husband Umar Dzhabrailov—were murdered in the same fashion: abducted and later found in the woods with gunshot wounds to their heads?
Kadyrov emphasizes that he is Putin’s man: “I’ll die for him!” Kadyrov wants to see his idol as Russia’s President for life. “Still…our President is Dmitry Medvedev, a strong, wise and proper politician. If he were not, the team would not have elected him.”
The Constitution, which Kadyrov swears by, says it’s the people who elected him President. He must have missed a nuance.
This Prince is hardly innocent -just uncouth and unsophisticated. Hence, he blurts out inadvertently what is on his mind. Or does he?
Yuri Zarakhovich is an analyst for the Jamestown Foundation