Head of the Chechen Republic Ramzan Kadyrov.Michael Klimentyev/RIA Novosti
The head of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, has chosen to publish a report called "A National Security Threat" on the Russian social network VKontakte, despite the fact that he is the principal target of criticism in the report.
The threat, according to the report's author Ilya Yashin, opposition activist and deputy chairman of the People's Freedom Party (Parnas), is Kadyrov himself.
The report tells how Kadyrov has allegedly created a quasi-Islamic state within Russia, which does not obey the laws of the country, with its own security forces and foreign policy separate from the Kremlin.
The report was presented in Moscow on Feb. 23, but due to a clerical error, the document appeared on Parnas' website the day before the presentation – and was reposted by Ramzan Kadyrov, with his comments.
"Today, the authors are going to present the material to reporters in Moscow as a sensation. And we are publishing it, so that everyone who wants to can familiarize themselves with it without waiting for the press conference," wrote Kadyrov, adding that it contains "nothing other than talk."
Opposition party leader Ilya Yashin. Source: EPA
Yashin admits that his report contains "nothing sensational," it is only an "analysis of the regime." He concluded his speech at the press conference by demanding the resignation of the head of Chechnya, "otherwise there will be a third Chechen war."
A month ago, Kadyrov published an article in one of the national newspapers in which he urged the authorities to "show no mercy" to the non-parliamentary opposition and Putin's opponents, calling them "dogs" and "enemies of the people."
After some time, he posted a video with the leader of the Parnas party, Mikhail Kasyanov, shown in the optical sights of a rifle.
Why does the Chechen leader need a series of high-profile conflicts? Apparently, this is the unofficial start of his election campaign.
While Kadyrov's term is set to expire in April, he claims he is not seeking to hold on to office.
"Times are different now from the economic and social points of view. We have more professional people on our team," he said.
However, his behavior suggests otherwise, says Mikhail Remizov, president of the National Strategy Institute. It is much more beneficial for him to have non-parliamentary, marginal forces as his public opponents rather than the federal security forces with whom Kadyrov is in conflict.
The massive rally against the "enemies of Russia" staged by Kadyrov after his harsh statements against the opposition received a response; the Chechen authorities launched a flash mob called "Kadyrov is a Patriot of Russia" (against critics of the Chechen leader), which was backed not only by well-known singers and directors, but also by deputies from Russia’s ruling party United Russia.
"He has positioned himself as one of the pillars of the regime, and the federal center, directly or indirectly, provides him with such support. This reduces the room for maneuver for Ramzan Kadyrov's real opponents in the federal elite," said Remizov.
The report describes how Ramzan Kadyrov, after nine years in power, has allegedly established what amounts to a personal fiefdom in Chechnya. The parliament, courts and media are under his absolute control, and the Sharia takes precedence over the laws of Russia.
The report states that Kadyrov has a personal army of 30,000 people at his disposal. Although these structures must obey the federal center, they, in fact, are loyal exclusively to the head of the republic, and their core is formed by former militants amnestied by Kadyrov, writes Yashin.
According to the author, Kadyrov has also been involved in a range of high-profile assassinations.
"He has turned Chechnya into a kind of legal offshore, where he harbors suspects who are loyal to him from prosecution," Gennady Gudkov, retired FSB colonel and State Duma deputy, is quoted in the report as saying.
However, Kadyrov is free to act with impunity since he has powerful backers in the Kremlin, Yashin believes.
Both the opposition and Kadyrov have scored points on the report, say observers interviewed by RBTH.
"The report was the reason for an increase in Yashin's citation rate," said Konstantin Kalachyov, head of the Political Expert Group.
Sergei Markov, director of the Kremlin-linked Institute for Political Studies, sees the report as a success for the opposition since it provides a rare opportunity to make the headlines, while the ghost of a third Chechen war is equally frightening for both the left and the right.
All rights reserved by Rossiyskaya Gazeta.
to our newsletter!
Get the week's best stories straight to your inbox