In an interview with Die Presse published May 3, Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov said that he will step down in ten years, when the republic is “flourishing.” Kadyrov told the Austrian newspaper that Chechnya in 2019 will be a “flourishing republic with the most handsome people in the world,” Russia Today reported. “I wouldn’t like being a President at that moment,” Kadyrov said.” I have a number of tasks which I need to fulfill until things go alright, and then I’ll take up something else. While I’m still young, I want to live, see the world and have time for myself and my family.”
Asked to define himself, Kadyrov said he is the man during whose time in office “counter-terrorist operations ceased in Chechnya.” He also insisted once again that Russia’s armed forces had not only faced Chechnya’s separatists, but had also faced “mercenaries” from 50 countries who had come “to destroy Russia’s integrity.” Kadyrov added: “Together with the Russian army and police we won this war.”
Kadyrov told Die Presse that he regards his presidency as a mission from God to prove that Muslims are not “murderers, Wahhabis or terrorists,” adding that his fight against the republic’s militants “wasn’t about a religious war.” According to Russia Today, Kadyrov also told the newspaper that he does not support the idea of imposing Sharia law in Chechnya, adding that “in our country church is separated from the state.”
Kadyrov said that 50 percent of the Chechen refugees living in Austria “left for quick big money in a rich country” and are people who “were cheated by those who organized their emigration” and now live worse in Austria than they could live today in Chechnya. He said some had gone to Austria for medical treatment while others fled the war at home. “And some were begging for asylum, telling lies about our realities,” he said. “I took them on after they came back and each of those I spoke to said he was used by different special services.”
Kadyrov denied any involvement in the murder of Umar Israilov, the 27-year-old former member of his team of bodyguards who was given asylum in Austria in 2006 and who was shot dead in Vienna in January. Israilov was killed shortly before the publication of a New York Times article in which he detailed the accusations he made against Kadyrov to the European Court of Human Rights, including allegations of torture (North Caucasus Weekly, January 15, 23, 30; February 6 and 12; March 6).
Kadyrov told Die Presse that not only did he not order Israilov’s assassination, but that he had granted Israilov amnesty, “built a house for him” and organized a meeting between Chechen officials and Israilov aimed at persuading him to return to Chechnya. Kadyrov also claimed that the same people who “triggered” the war in Chechnya had an interest in Israilov’s murder. “This murder was carried out in the heart of Vienna in order to play up the issue and to intimidate the people who want to return home,” Kadyrov told the Austrian newspaper.
Kadyrov also once again denied involvement in other high-profile murders, including the 2006 murder of the journalist Anna Politkovskaya. In an apparent reference to the murders of Sulim Yamadaev in Dubai in March (North Caucasus Weekly, April 3 and 10) and his brother Ruslan Yamadaev in Moscow last September (North Caucasus Weekly, September 26, October 3 and 17, 2008) Kadyrov said that “those” who had recently been murdered had themselves committed crimes, and had been “used” by unnamed people and then “dropped,” after which he was accused of their murders.