News / Europe

    Chechen Ruler is 'Threat to National Security,' Russian Opposition Activist Says

    Russian opposition activist Ilya Yashin speaks while presenting a report on Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, in Moscow, Feb. 23, 2016. The banner behind him reads: "National Security Threat."
    Russian opposition activist Ilya Yashin speaks while presenting a report on Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, in Moscow, Feb. 23, 2016. The banner behind him reads: "National Security Threat."

    "Chechnya is a state inside Russia that is not subject to the laws of the country," says Ilya Yashin, deputy chairman of the Russian opposition party Parnas.

    He presented a report Tuesday titled "Threat to National Security" on the situation in the republic, located in Russia's North Caucasus region.

    Yashin said his main task, and that of Parnas and Russia's democratic coalition, is to demand "the immediate resignation" of Ramzan Kadyrov, Chechnya's governor and a stalwart supporter of President Vladimir Putin. They also want Kadyrov to be prosecuted for "a number of serious crimes."

    Russian media on Tuesday quoted Kadyrov, whose second term as Chechnya's governor ends in early April, as saying he was ready leave office. However, he has not officially taken himself out of the running for another term.

    There were several attempts to disrupt Yashin's presentation, which was held at Parnas's offices in the Russian capital and attended by a large number of Russian and foreign journalists. First, a young man whose journalistic credentials were less than clear hurled a pack of fake American dollar bills at the speaker. That man was removed from the premises, but soon afterward another person began shouting loudly.

    FILE - Chechen regional leader Ramzan Kadyrov speaks at celebrations marking Defenders of the Fatherland Day in Chechnya's provincial capital Grozny, Russia, Feb. 20, 2016.
    FILE - Chechen regional leader Ramzan Kadyrov speaks at celebrations marking Defenders of the Fatherland Day in Chechnya's provincial capital Grozny, Russia, Feb. 20, 2016.

    Yashin continued to speak, but the event was interrupted yet again, this time by an announcement that police wanted the building cleared because of a bomb threat. That brought the presentation to an end.

    ‘Gossip,” says Kadyrov

    The attempts to disrupt the event seemed somewhat pointless, given that the report had already been made public — by none other than Ramzan Kadyrov himself, thanks to a technical glitch on the website of Open Russia, the pro-democracy movement founded by exiled former oil baron Mikhail Khodorkovsky, to which Yashin had given an advance copy of the report.

    Kadyrov, via Instagram, pointed his 1.7 million followers to his pages on other social media where they could read Yashin's report, which he dismissed as "gossip." The opposition, for its part, thanked Kadyrov for making the report available in Chechnya.

    The report was made public just days before the first anniversary of the murder of Boris Nemtsov, the former Russian deputy prime minister who became a leading Putin critic. Nemtsov was shot to death just steps away from the Kremlin walls last Feb. 27.

    Five suspects were arrested in connection with Nemtsov's murder, including Zaur Dadayev, the former deputy commander of a security battalion loyal to Kadyrov. Following his arrest, the Chechen ruler called Dadayev a "true patriot" of Russia.

    ‘Our local Islamic State’

    In its introduction, the opposition report refers to Chechnya as "our local Islamic State," adding that this "Chechen Caliphate" lives "by its own traditions and laws, meanwhile regularly receiving billions in subsidies from the Russian budget."

    FILE - Anti-government protesters hold posters asking who killed opposition leader Boris Nemtsov as they march during an opposition rally in Moscow, Russia, Sept. 20, 2015. (Photo by M. Eckels)
    FILE - Anti-government protesters hold posters asking who killed opposition leader Boris Nemtsov as they march during an opposition rally in Moscow, Russia, Sept. 20, 2015. (Photo by M. Eckels)

    Kadyrov is awash in luxury, Yashin said, while "implementing a policy of prioritizing certain Sharia norms over Russian laws, and building up his military power." According to the opposition leader, Kadyrov's "personal army" numbers more than 20,000 fighters.

    "Gunmen from Chechnya stage terrorist attacks on opponents of Kadyrov in Moscow and outside of Russia," Yashin said. The main purpose of his report, he said, is to "open the eyes of Russian society to the fact that Ramzan Kadyrov, with the connivance of the country's leadership and intelligence services, has become a figure who represents a threat to the national security of Russia.”

    The full text of the opposition report on Chechnya — in Russian — is available on the website of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Russian service.

    ‘Authorities will be silent’

    Andrei Kolesnikov, a senior associate with the Carnegie Moscow Center and chair of its Russian Domestic Politics and Political Institutions Program, called Yashin's report "very important," but predicted that the Russian government would not react to it.

    "While Kadyrov has obviously been nervous recently, he's clearly not worried about the reaction of society, but rather about the position of the [federal] authorities," he told VOA. "And the authorities will be silent."

    According to Kolesnikov, the report will elicit contradictory responses within Russian society.

    An unidentified person throws pieces of paper, resembling banknotes, as Russian opposition figure Ilya Yashin (L) presents his report in Moscow, Feb. 23, 2016.
    An unidentified person throws pieces of paper, resembling banknotes, as Russian opposition figure Ilya Yashin (L) presents his report in Moscow, Feb. 23, 2016.

    "Some will perceive it as being inspired by the West to slander Kadyrov, others [will perceive it] as the truth," he said. "But no practical conclusions will be drawn from it. In any case, he will not be dismissed, and will continue to serve in his position."

    Putin clings to Kadyrov because he ensures peace — or the appearance of it — in Chechnya, said Kolesnikov.

    Alexander Cherkasov, director of the Memorial Human Rights Center in Moscow, said Yashin's report is important because it details, among other things, the alleged murders of opponents of Kadyrov in Moscow — crimes that he said were like something out of "a television series about dysfunctional life in a dysfunctional country."

    "Ilya Yashin has compiled the available information in order to try and place on the national agenda all the things that people see and hear but try not to notice," Cherkasov said.

    Still, he said the report is unlikely to have a quick effect.

    "The spoken word very rarely causes an immediate reaction, produces results," Cherkasov said. "For that to happen, you have to prepare a base, to create a critical mass of previously spoken words. Ilya Yashin has contributed to the formation of this critical mass."

    You May Like

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    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.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora