Editor’s Note: Putin’s Chechen strongman puppet, Ramzan Kadyrov, is an out-of-control playboy meathead wallowing in Putin’s cash. This lunatic outright murders anyone who criticizes his iron Putin-backed rule in the Caucasus.
Politico Magazine / Anna Nemtsova
Ramzan Kadyrov may well be Vladimir Putin’s most ghoulish creation—a kind of vassal who remains slavishly loyal to the Russian leader but who also serves as a constant and nagging reminder of how ugly Putin-style autocracy can get when it really goes over the edge. Like the character Smerdyakov in The Brothers Karamazov, Kadryov claims he is only fulfilling the wishes of his master, Putin, with his brutal tactics and threats to political opponents. The Chechen leader considers himself “Putin’s warrior,” and his never-fading mantra is one he repeated to me in an interview at one of his palaces in the Chechen republic: “As long as Putin backs me up, I can do everything, Allahu Akbar!”
But lately Kadyrov’s outrageous tactics—and his tendency to advertise himself as Putin’s attack dog, even outside Chechnya—seem to be embarrassing even Russia’s autocratic leader. Kadyrov’s latest hate campaign comes at a time when Putin is gingerly trying to win his way back into the international community’s good graces after being sanctioned for his nation’s seizure of Crimea and infiltration of Ukraine; when the Russian president has just been publicly blamed by a British inquiry for the assassination of former KGB agent Andrei Litvinenko; and Putin faces a threat of waning popularity at home in the face of Russia’s economic troubles.
Kadyrov’s latest stunt came on Sunday, when he published an Instagram video showing a Putin rival, Russian opposition politician Mikhail Kasyanov, in the optical sight of a rifle. Coming after the murder of popular liberal politician Boris Nemstov last year—among the five Chechens suspected in the killing is an associate of Kadyrov’s —it was yet another indication that Putin may have created a monster he can barely control any longer and is not eager to advertise (the Kremlin said nothing about Kadyrov’s post).
“I hear a lot that relations between Putin and Kadyrov have grown worse, and after Boris Nemtsov’s murder last February, that Kadyrov lost the ‘access to the body’ [the Kremlin] and is doing everything to restore it, the way he knows how,” Duma deputy Dmitry Gudkov told me in an interview last week. “Putin gave him carte blanche for Chechnya, but not for Russia.”
…. Aleksei Venediktov, the editor of Echo of Moscow, a popular radio station in Moscow, told me he was not going to hide from Kadyrov. And in fact, the station has covered every step of Kadyrov’s attacks on the opposition. “We are aware of the real reasons behind these threats: The Chechen leadership reacted hysterically to Echo of Moscow’s reports on Nemtsov’s murder,” Venediktov told me in a recent interview. He added: “SS soldiers used German shepherds to attack victims in concentration camps, so it is a shame that the Chechen leadership uses that example.”
On December 19, Chechen police detained a professor of economics at Grozny University, 37-year-old Khizir Yezhiyev, after he published a critical post in social networks. The professor’s body was found on January 1 in the forest of Urus Martan region. The official cause of death in the police paperwork said: “Fell off a cliff.” In the past neither the Kremlin nor a majority of the Russian people have cared what methods Kadyrov used, but lately the number of those who criticized and mocked Kadyrov on media, in social networks and on street banners has increased.
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