Little-Known Group Honors Kadyrov as Human Rights Defender

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 8 Issue: 14

Kommersant reported on April 4 that Ramzan Kadyrov was to be awarded the Distinguished Defender of Human Rights award in Grozny that same day. As the Moscow Times reported on April 5, Alexander Sapronov, the spokesman for a little-known Ukraine-based NGO called the International Committee for the Protection of Human Rights, told Kommersant that Kadyrov had been chosen for the award because of his “personal contribution to the protection of human rights.” The NGO, which was registered in Kiev in 2001, claims to have 61 million members from around the world. The committee is headed by Colonel General Igor Danilov. Its honorary president is former Ukrainian Interior Minister Ivan Gladysh, according to the NGO’s web site. Colonel General Viktor Kazantsev, who commanded government troops during the campaigns in Dagestan and Chechnya in 1999 and 2000, is the group’s “extraordinary and plenipotentiary envoy.”

The NGO claims such Western celebrities as former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and Sophia Loren, along with such Russian notables as Liberal Democratic Party of Russia leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky, television host Leonid Yakubovich and humorist Mikhail Zhvanetsky, as members. However, Novaya gazeta on April 2 quoted Zhirinovsky, Yakubovich and Zhvanetsky as saying they had never heard of the organization.

Meanwhile, in an article about Kadyrov’s impending presidential inauguration published on April 1, the Sunday Times quoted an unnamed Grozny-based human rights activist as saying of Kadyrov: “The Kremlin, which has bombed Chechnya for years and killed 100,000 people, is now handing it over to a dictator-in-the-making. He behaves like someone who owns the republic and everyone in it.” On April 5, the Daily Telegraph, in article filed from Argun, quoted family members of young men who had been tortured or made to “disappear” by Kadyrov’s security forces. Samai Abzuyeva told the British newspaper that kadyrovtsy had tortured her son, Abdulbek, to death a year ago in order to wrest control of his second-hand car dealership. “Enraged that Mrs. Abzuyeva has tried to seek justice, the militiamen, working with Abdulbek’s widow who wants to force her from her flat, have turned their anger onto the 76-year-old grandmother,” the Daily Telegraph reported. It quoted her as pleading: “I’m begging you to help me punish these people.” The Daily Telegraph also said it had recently obtained a video showing a woman lying face down as she was flogged, apparently also by kadyrovtsy. “Activists have interviewed her but say she is so scared that she has begged them to drop the matter,” the newspaper reported. It compared the filmed beating to the case of Malika Soltaeva, who, after being accused by her husband of having an affair with a Christian, was filmed, apparently by kadyrovtsy, as they beat her, shaved her head and painted it green, painting a green cross on her forehead (Chechnya Weekly, January 25; May 25, 2006).