On August 8, in an exclusive interview with RFE/RL
, Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov denied his involvement in the murder of prominent Russian rights activist Natalya Estemirova
and blamed the West for spreading lies about him. Our language services received an unprecedented response to the interview. Below is a sampling of some of the comments RFE/RL has received.Russian Service
"Kadyrov's opponents can only criticize him without offering ANY kind of alternative for exiting a frightening situation. They fully understand there's simply no alternative to him. Under the guise of 'human rights' (that is, of criminals), Kadyrov's opponents want chaos, anarchy, and wide-scale war to return to Chechnya. Let them bark -- there's no alternative to Kadyrov and won't be anytime soon (and will there ever be?). As long as Kadyrov is in power, there will be peace. The dogs bark, but the caravan keeps moving."-- Lol
"It's obvious there are no alternatives to Ramzan in Chechnya.... He's providing stability for the region, the North Caucasus, and Russia in general and making fewer Russian mothers cry at the coffins of their children (as was the case 10 years ago).... Kadyrov wants only peace and prosperity for his own people after so many years of suffering for the Chechen people. All responsibility for what happened at the end of the 1980s and '90s between the nationalities of the USSR lies with [former Soviet President] Mikhail Gorbachev (including the fact that Ramzan only has a third-grade education)!!!"-- Yar
"This is the only concise and objective analysis of the situation in Chechnya on this forum. Because of the essentially full absence of freedom of speech on television, radio, and in newspapers (the Internet is the sole source of information), it's impossible to judge the situation in Chechnya and in the Caucasus objectively.
It's better to see for oneself once than to hear something 100 times, so very big thanks to Radio Liberty for organizing and posting the interview with Ramzan Kadyrov.
My impressions: He is poorly educated, limited, he contradicts himself, cries hysterically while playing billiards. If the Russian authorities make such a person president of Chechnya, what's the level of those authorities? Proceeding from basic principles acknowledged by the overwhelming majority of states and peoples, freedom and human rights (given at birth and inalienable), only a single line of conclusions can be made:
1. Independence for the Chechen people by way of a fully free referendum.
2. Help for the Chechen people rebuilding the economy and infrastructure destroyed by Russia.
Genuinely friendly relations between Russia and the Caucasus can only be established in this case. Russia must first of all carry out structural reform of its economy to change it from being natural resource-based to industry-based.
Doing that is impossible without real competition in government, the economy and media.
Directing enormous financial and other resources at the bottomless pit called "the Caucasus" while the average life expectancy for males [in Russia] is 60 years, and slightly higher for women, is at the very least short-sighted policy.
The existence of a group of super-rich among a poor population -- especially during the current period of crisis -- is supported precisely by the super-rich, and not directly by the general population.
But the attacks of nationalists against Chechens and other people from the Caucasus is evidence of their limitations."-- Dmitry Khobotov
"Frankly, I don't care what's going on in Chechnya and who's president there. The most important thing is that our Russian boys aren’t sent there to be cannon fodder to die in that blood-drenched land, even though it's technically part of Russia. Let them fight against themselves and cut each others' throats. War is the essence of their existence."
"Putin needed the Kadyrovs (first the father, then the son) to create a civil war in Chechnya, to make Chechens begin to fight one another. It must be said that the plan completely succeeded. Even those who live by Kadyrov's grace in Chechnya cannot stand him. I've been in Chechnya many times and have many Chechen friends.
The fear that rules in the region is reminiscent of Stalin's time, when people were afraid to speak honestly even among members of their own family. Constant collections for the president's fund, unbelievable corruption, the abduction and killing of people and medieval torture reign in Chechnya.
But no one will speak to you or journalists about it. Animal fear for oneself and one's children paralyzes all other feelings. Kadyrov hated Natalya Estemirova not only because she was the only person who spoke about what's really happening in the region, but also because she wasn't afraid of him. She said live on air that she refused to put on a headscarf as demanded by Kadyrov because observance of Shari'a law is a personal matter for each person and can’t be dictated by presidential decree. After her appearance, Kadyrov personally crossed her off the list of members of [an advisory] committee [on civil society]."-- Lida Azerbaijani Service
"I don't know about his political skills. All I can see is that he is young, good at billiards and pool, and has at least three mobile phones."
"Kadyrov is a wise man. He knows that fighting against Russia is meaningless -- it's like a fly fighting against an elephant. Take Tatarstan. They have a reasonable president and the region is one of the more developed parts of Russia. The Tatar president has never been involved in any provocation. Chechens shouldn't forget what happened to Afghanistan and Iraq." -- Mesum
"[Kadyrov is a] Chechen version of [nationalist leader Vladimir] Zhirinovsky."
"Of course, he wants Putin's lifetime presidency, that also means his lifetime presidency."
-- Natik M.
"Look who is the leader of the brave Chechen people -- a pro-Russian man! My God, where is the spirit of Sheikh Shamil?"Georgian Service
"Yes, sure -- [he is] in Putin's team, and is openly bragging how strong his team is. But how can someone who has betrayed his own country and surrendered it to the enemy, speak about others? So the U.S. will have an interest in going into Shida Kartli [editor's note: South Ossetia] and, Russia will not? LOL! Probably the 'team' members instructed their little serf about things he should have said. Our time will be over once Russia's wishes come true, and people like him will become our presidents. I am talking about opposition that is currently active in Georgia. Whenever the country is on the brink of a war, on the edge of a disaster, they become active, and start to demand governmental change."
-- Katiea Kyrgyz Service
"Why would Kadyrov bother to kill this 'woman no one needed'? He was right to call her a 'baba.'" -- Alymbek
[Editor's note: Kadyrov called slain Chechen rights activist Natalya Estemirova a "baba" in the interview, in this context a dismissive insult.]