Kommersant reported on March 22 that during his meeting in Moscow the previous day with leaders of Chechen communities from around Russia, Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov criticized the Russian media, which, he said, “continues to replicate a bad image of the Chechen.” (According to Kommersant, Kadyrov said Kommersant covers Chechnya more or less objectively.) “Something happens in Kondopoga [the town in Karelia where ethnic violence took place in 2006] or Kazakhstan – anywhere, and it turns out that the Chechens are responsible.” He added that he would order his representatives in Russia’s regions to protect the rights of Chechens living outside the republic more actively and not permit them to be “oppressed.” “We protected Russia from international terrorism, so therefore, we must be treated in worthy manner – by the authorities, law-enforcement bodies and society,” Kadyrov said, stating that he had lost his father and hundreds of friends and acquaintances in the fight against terrorism.
Kadyrov’s comments in Moscow about the media and its putative anti-Chechen bias were a continuation of comments he made several days earlier. Interfax reported on March 19 that he complained during a news conference in Grozny that Chechens are constantly portrayed on Russian television as terrorists and traitors. “The Chechen people are not guilty of anything,” he said. “They are not responsible for the war here. They sustained great human losses, which was the sacrifice to preserve Russia’s unity. Both Russian leaders and the people should bear it in mind. Everyone in Russia should remember that thanks to us, coffins are no longer coming from Chechnya, that the Chechen people bore the brunt in fighting terrorism, having taken this burden away from the Russian armed forces. We are going to continue to defend Russia, wherever we may have to do this. Thousands of people died defending Russia in its fight against foreign mercenaries and their accomplices.” Given all of this, Kadyrov said it is “annoying” to see films “in which they are trying to portray every Chechen as a terrorist, traitor, whistle-blower, and a mean and crafty person.”