News / Europe

    Chechnya's President Says Insurgency Dying Down

    Chechnya regional leader Ramzan Kadyrov speaks during a news conference in Grozny, March 7, 2011
    Chechnya regional leader Ramzan Kadyrov speaks during a news conference in Grozny, March 7, 2011

    Multimedia

    Audio
    James Brooke

    In Russia’s Chechnya republic, which has long been a center of anti Kremlin violence in the Caucasus, Ramzan Kadyrov, the young president, now feels his capital is safe enough to invite 50 foreign correspondents for a news conference and an exhibition football match.

    Wearing a black velvet tunic with leather epaulettes, Ramzan Kadyrov, 34, the president of Chechnya, had an upbeat message.

    Chechnya is winning the battle against terrorism and is now open for foreign investment, he told foreign correspondents at his high walled, tightly guarded compound in central Grozny.

    He says Chechnya is winning the war against terrorism, because Chechens realize that extremism is evil and retards development. Human rights critics say that he has used torture and summary executions to beat down the Islamic fundamentalist insurgency.

    Asked by VOA how many rebels are fighting in this republic of one million people, President Kadyrov responded with "68."

    Kremlin officials estimate that there are about 1,000 rebels fighting in Russia’s Caucasus, a mountainous area that stretches from the Black Sea to the Caspian. Viewed from afar, the Caucasus is often a blur. But on the ground, it is clear that the insurgency is shifting among the four Islamic majority republics. Officials say violence is down in Chechnya and neighboring Ingushetia.  They say it is up in Dagestan and Kabardino Balkaria.

    After two decades of violence, Chechnya now is ruled by a man who is a firm proponent of law and order. Last week, Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev rewarded Kadyrov’s success by appointing him to a second term as Chechnya’s president. On Saturday, the republic’s rubber stamp parliament unanimously voted their support.   

    Asked about the uprisings in the streets of Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, Chechnya’s leader chose to praise the authoritarian governments of China and Saudi Arabia.

    Referring to the conservative Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, he said: "In Saudi Arabia, there is order, there is strict government and no one gets out of line."

    President Kadyrov also uses a personality cult to try to impose unity on a divided, clan-based society. Asked by VOA about his massive portraits displayed on billboards all over the capital, he joked that "People like to look at pictures of a handsome nice young man."

    At the Tuesday news conference, he called on a female aide in a long black dress and tightly wrapped black and orange scarf to explain to reporters why she wears conservative Muslim attire. He talks of his moves to severely limit alcohol sales and his interest in taking on a second wife.

    "Money made selling women, drugs, alcohol - this money we do not want," Kadyrov said.

    Asked which foreign forces are supporting the rebellions in the Caucasus, Kadyrov’s finger does not point to Iran or Saudi Arabia, two Islamic nations often seen as sources of funding. Instead, he focused on the United States.

    In the Caucasus, he noted that, America’s ally is Georgia.

    Pointing to his neighbor, on the south side of a high range of neighbors, he asked: "Why do the Georgians need America? America is on the other side of the ocean."

    Kadyrov accused Georgia of training Chechen terrorists, then flying them to Russia, through Europe or Azerbaijan. With Russia embarking on an election year, this is an accusation increasingly heard from officials in Moscow.

    You May Like

    Greenpeace Leak: US-EU Trade Deal Would Favor Corporations

    Activist group leaks classified documents to 'shine a light' on talks that could create the world's largest bilateral trade and investment pact

    Video Ethiopia's Drought Takes Toll on Children

    East African country’s crops failed in 2015, creating food shortages for 10 million – including 6 million children whose development may be compromised

    What Your First Name Reveals About Who You Vote For

    People named Chad are more likely to be Republicans and Jonathans are usually Democrats

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora