Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 7 Issue: 11

The Chechen separatist Daymohk website on March 13 posted a video clip of what it said was Chechen Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov “in a bath-house scene” with prostitutes. The website said it received the clip from the “jamaat IBADULLAH” and claimed it was filmed at “one of Kadyrov’s favorite saunas.” The Regnum news agency on March 15 said that the clip appears to have been filmed by a cell phone camera and shows “a person resembling Kadyrov dancing with two half-clothed girls—one after another.” Several other men are visible in the brief clip.

Responding to Daymohk’s posting of the clip, the Chechen government’s press service said in a statement, which was quoted by the ANN news agency and other Russian media on March 15: “Since the time Ramzan Kadyrov began to take active part in the life of the republic, to work on a program for improving the situation in Chechnya, a multitude of ill-wishers, who want to harm him, have appeared. He has said that it is necessary to be ready for anything, for the most unexpected and rude provocations.” According to Regnum, the Chechen prosecutor’s office has launched a criminal investigation into “defamation of a government official” in connection with the video’s appearance.

Kadyrov, whom Chechnya’s parliament officially confirmed as the republic’s prime minister on March 4 (see Chechnya Weekly, March 9), has in recent months played what some observers see as the “Islamic card,” cracking down on the sale of alcohol and gambling in the republic while speaking out in favor of polygamy and the mandatory wearing of headscarves for women when they appear in official institutions (see below).

Meanwhile, Novaya gazeta correspondent Anna Politkovskaya commented on the Kadyrov video in an interview with Kavkazky Uzel that the website posted on March 15. Asked about the contradiction between Kadyrov’s appeals for Islamic orthodoxy and his apparent sauna antics, Politkovskaya responded: “He is an uneducated, country person, and nothing more. But the fact is that gossip about his sexual adventures, particularly in Moscow clubs, has been around for a long time. Basically, it is not gossip, but completely well-founded descriptions—including by some of my acquaintances who go to men’s clubs—about how they saw Ramzan there, and in whose company he was there. These are generally big Moscow Chechen businessmen with well-known last names. But his sexual adventures cannot interest me at all, because this is decided by each person for himself and his wife and doesn’t concern anyone else. And Ramzan Kadyrov is by no means alone in sinning like a hypocrite in this area. A great many frequent bath-houses with prostitutes, and later make all kinds of lofty moral speeches and urge women to be pure: I am not surprised by this.”

Politkovskaya said that she has other footage shot by members of Kadyrov’s inner circle using mobile phone cameras. “When I saw him [Kadyrov] the last time, his whole inner circle personally bragged to me: look at the mobile phone that I have, look how wonderfully it shoots video. And, later, film [clips] started to be sent to me…On them were the murders of federal servicemen by kadyrovtsy, and also kidnappings directed by Kadyrov. These are very serious things; on the basis of them, a criminal case and investigation should follow. These could allow this person to be brought to justice, which he has long richly deserved. The people who made these films are exposed to extreme danger, because judging by the character of the films, they are really close to him.”

When the Kavkazky Uzel interviewer noted that Kadyrov’s “double-faced” moral position could have wide-ranging consequences, given that he is not simply an ordinary person, but “the premier of the most complicated republic” of Russia, Politkovskaya responded: “He is premier de jure. But he is no premier. No one measures their behavior according to him; he is an authority for no one. Dig down into Chechen society literally a half centimeter below the official conversations and they will tell you how he is hated and what a scourge [he] is for all of Chechnya. And they will tell you…that all of his appeals to follow Sharia…and be a good Muslim are not worth a damn. In private life, he conducts himself very dirtily. This concerns not only the treatment of women; it also concerns the fantastic larceny and bribery that has blossomed under him. And it is absolutely not Muslim behavior…The fact is that…under Sharia, there is a percent that you allot for good deeds. But in this case, there is not even a scent of good deeds. It is chic pastimes, it is magnificent automobiles, it is apartments in Moscow. Yes, he calls on all [Chechen] officials, ministers, to return to their families from Moscow, where they were all given apartments at Putin’s request. But he himself [Kadyrov] is not giving up his apartments in Moscow.” Politikovskaya said she wished “only health and happiness” for Kadyrov’s recently born son, who has had health problems and “needs treatment by doctors in the capital.” She noted, however, that Kadyrov’s family is not the only one with such problems.