And Holds Forth on Upcoming Elections and Education

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 8 Issue: 43

On November 1, the BBC quoted Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov as telling its correspondent in Grozny that there is no need for any official opposition parties in Chechnya and repeating that 100 percent of Chechnya’s voters will support the pro-Kremlin United Russia party in the upcoming State Duma elections set for December 2. President Vladimir Putin will head United Russia’s list of candidates. Kadyrov also told the BBC that the Chechen people love their government and denied that he or his militia has committed any human rights violations.

According to the BBC, Kadyrov, who had “minimal security” as he “marched through the city streets” in the Chechen capital to meet its correspondent for an interview, was “blunt” when asked whether there was a need for opposition parties in Chechnya. “Why do we need to create an opposition if we, the government, are going in the right direction and people love us?” he said, adding that there was already an opposition, he described as “the people who tell us when we need to do things differently.”

Still, the BBC cited an unnamed independent media organization in Chechnya as saying that “a state of fear” exists in the republic, “And that probably means that most people who do turn out to vote in next month’s elections will heed Mr. Kadyrov’s call to vote for United Russia,” the BBC wrote.

Meanwhile, Prague Watchdog reported on November 2 that Chechnya’s Education Ministry had established a special education commission to make decisions about individual students on the basis of academic progress reports and to implement “concrete measures,” up to and including expulsion.

According to the website, the ministry set up the commission following a recent visit by President Ramzan Kadyrov to Chechen State University (ChGU). “During his visit to the university Kadyrov happened to encounter two students who were standing to one side during a break in classes, smoking,” Prague Watchdog reported. “Kadyrov went up to them and took them to task, saying: ‘Have you come to university to study or to smoke?’ The lads immediately threw their cigarettes away, but Kadyrov noticed one of them had chewing gum in his mouth so he continued to upbraid them, telling them that they were not behaving like Chechens. ‘Are you a Chechen?’ he asked one of them. The student replied: ‘Of course!’ ‘Well, you don’t look like one,’ Kadyrov said, and turned to the university’s principal, Anzor Muzaev. Pointing to the shamefaced students, Kadyrov said that nothing would come of individuals like them, and told him to take steps to punish them. Both students, who were enrolled at the medical faculty, have been summarily expelled from the university.”

Prague Watchdog reported that there will soon be “a single dress code” for Chechen State University students: “Men will be required to wear a jacket and necktie, and women will have to wear a headscarf bearing the university’s logo as an obligatory part of their attire.”

Meanwhile, on November 3, RIA Novosti reported that Kadyrov demanded that his photograph be removed from the fronts of buildings, offices and private homes in Grozny. “If someone very much wants to hang someone’s photograph, better to do it in their office,” the news agency quoted Kadyrov as telling a Chechen government meeting.