Few independent observers doubt that Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov was in some way connected to the shooting of Sulim Yamadaev in Dubai. In any case, Kadyrov has gained the most from Yamadaev’s murder. “Kadyrov’s regime in Chechnya is absolute; no laws operate there, except Kadyrov’s,” Newsru.com on April 7 quoted Stanislav Belkovsky, founding director of the Institute of National Strategy in Moscow, as saying. “All serious competitors in the fight for power” in Chechnya have now been eliminated, “not only with the connivance, but sometimes with the assistance of the federal authorities,” Belkovsky said, adding: “Therefore we can speak of the actual legalization of the region’s independence.”
Belkovsky said that the complete separation of Kadyrov’s regime from Russia will take place once the counter-terrorist operation in Chechnya is ended. Yet he stressed that Chechnya will become independent of Russia de facto, but not de jure. “Ramzan will never voluntarily refuse the uncontrolled use of federal resources,” he said. “That is, the Russian Federation will continue financing a republic that is actually not subordinated to the federal center.” He reiterated that there are now no serious threats or challenges to the Chechen leader, that Kadyrov’s political influence in Chechnya is immense and that his competitors have been destroyed. “Kadyrov doesn’t have to fear current enemies,” he said. “He simply doesn’t have any. For him, the danger is new rivals who will appear after Chechnya gets de facto independence. The fact is that there is no tradition of one-man power [in Chechnya], not a single authoritarian regime has been stable, and it’s in that that I see the main problem for Kadyrov in the future.”
Meanwhile, in an interview published in the Russian government newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta on April 7, Kadyrov praised Djokhar Dudaev, the Chechen president killed in a Russian missile strike in April 1996, calling him a “national hero” who was loved by the Chechen people but whose mistake was not to agree with the suggestion of Kadyrov’s father, Akhmad Kadyrov, to denounce the Chechen rebels’ Arab field commander, Khattab, as “a foreign mercenary.”
Kadyrov also defended his decision earlier this decade to “reach an agreement” with then Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying it was the only chance the Chechen people had to “get out of the situation” in which they found themselves following the second post-Soviet Russian military intervention in Chechnya in 1999. He said Chechnya should not seek “sovereignty,” or existence as a state separate from Russia, because of its small territory, high birthrate and the prospects of its oil running out. “Oil will run out and what am I going to do then as an independent state?” he rhetorically asked Rossiiskaya Gazeta. “Where will I go?”
In the Rossiiskaya Gazeta interview, Kadyrov also claimed that during the first and second Russian military campaigns in Chechnya, the republic was “used as a tool” and that the wars against Moscow were “forced” on it, with the U.S. “White House” telling it to “take your sovereignty.” He added: “We were armed and used against the sovereign state of Russia. But they could not break us and put us on our knees.” He also reiterated his charge that the London-based exiled Russian tycoon, Boris Berezovsky, was among those responsible for what happened in Chechnya, stating that the people “who destroyed the Soviet Union also needed to destroy Russia.” Kadyrov alleged that Berezovsky urged the Chechen separatist field commanders Salman Raduev and Shamil Basaev to kidnap people, promising to pay them ransoms, and in fact paid them “millions of dollars.” Kadyrov also accused Berezovsky of killing the journalist Anna Politkovskaya in order to use the murder against him.
Kadyrov also, yet again, praised Putin, saying that were it not for the former president and current prime minister, Chechnya would not now exist, and that Putin “saved our people.” He added: “I owe my life to Putin. If I forget that, I am not a man. When I had serious problems in my life, he helped. He is the most sacred person to me.”
In addition, Kadyrov once again praised polygamy, telling Rossiiskaya Gazeta: “We have, in Chechnya, more women than men. But all of them must be settled in life. Polygamy is allowed by our customs, our religion. On the other hand, if a young woman or a divorced woman goes out with someone, then her brother kills both her and the man. We have very stern customs. Better for a woman to be a second or third wife than to be killed. So that I’m convinced [that] today we need polygamy. There is no such law, but I tell everyone: if someone has the desire and opportunity, take a second wife.”
Kadyrov also defended closing down Chechnya’s gambling establishments.