Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 7 Issue: 12

In his interview with Rossiiskaya gazeta published on March 22, Ramzan Kadyrov again said his government would guarantee the lives of militants who were not involved in serious crimes and are ready to lay down their weapons. “We have held talks with those who were, and still are, out in the woods,” he said. “This is useful and effective, because it is better to return them to a peaceful life than to fight against them.” The Chechen government guarantees “immunity in cases where militants have not spilt blood,” Kadyrov said, adding: “And if the people don’t understand that, then we are fighting them and this is lawful in our traditions. This is war, there are enemies, shaitans I call them, and we are not negotiating with these people.”

Kadyrov again vowed to track down the perpetrators of the May 9, 2004 bombing that killed his father, then-Chechen President Akhmad Kadyrov. “The terrorist attack was ordered by Maskhadov and Basaev,” he said, referring to the late separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov and rebel warlord Shamil Basaev. “The direct executor is already dead; law enforcement agencies traced and eliminated him in Grozny last year. Yet, the organizer of the crime, Khairulla, is still alive, but I hope not for long.” Kadyrov also reiterated that he “dreams” of killing Basaev.

Kadyrov suggested to Rossiiskaya gazeta that Basaev is not currently in Chechnya and that the republic’s law enforcement agencies and security forces have a firm grip on the republic. “Today the law enforcement organs, special services and military are exercising control over the republic much better than before,” he told the newspaper. “The militants cannot feel secure anywhere on the territory of Chechnya.” Kadyrov said that “large-scale” search operations were ongoing in Chechnya’s mountainous districts and yielding “good results.”

In the Rossiiskaya gazeta interview, Kadyrov complained about reports in the Russian media that he had ordered Chechen women to wear headscarves in official institutions (see Chechnya Weekly, March 9). “They are starting to say in the media that I ordered everyone to wear headscarves,” he told the newspaper. “It wasn’t so; I simply said that a woman looks more chaste in a headscarf. In the Russian Orthodox Church, for example, women are also prohibited from entering churches without headscarves. So why is this accepted as normal in the Russian Orthodox Church but not for Islam? Or [why], for example, does the wearing of long beards by [Orthodox] clergymen not arouse indignation in anyone, but all bearded men in Chechnya are equated with Wahhabis?”

Meanwhile, Novaya gazeta correspondent Anna Politkovskaya wrote an article published in the bi-weekly on March 20 that included her descriptions of and some clips from footage sent to her that was apparently shot by someone using a cell phone camera. One clip appears to show the aftermath of a road accident involving a car belonging to Chechen “siloviki” and a Russian armored personnel carrier. Several Russian servicemen are lying on the ground, apparently either dead or unconscious. The clip then shows, as Politkovskaya describes it, “people in Kadyrovite uniforms” beating another federal serviceman, who apparently had also been traveling in the APC, to the ground next to the other servicemen. “The crowd presses in, swinging with feet, fists, rifle butts,” Politkovskaya wrote. “Finally the crowd gives way. The bodies of the servicemen, sprawled on the dirty damp-clayey side of a Chechen road, remain lying motionless, face-down. One of the soldiers is kicked in the head; he doesn’t react—either dead or deeply unconscious.” Another clip shows a group of men wearing the camouflage uniforms of the Kadyrov-controlled Chechen security services forcing two men into the trunk of a car. Ramzan Kadyrov appears to be among the group of uniformed men.

On March 13, the separatist Daymohk website posted a video clip, also apparently taken using a video camera on a cell phone, showing someone closely resembling Ramzan Kadyrov with several other men and two women, apparently prostitutes, at a sauna (see Chechnya Weekly, March 16).