Monday, March 30, 2015

Chechen Leader Kadyrov Shoots His Mouth (And Then His Gun) Off

When Ramzan Kadyrov posted an Instagram message hailing the chief suspect in the assassination of Boris Nemtsov as a "Russian patriot," some wondered if perhaps the Chechen leader himself had organized the killing.

Zaur Dadayev, the accused killer, had close ties with Kadyrov and had served in a Russian Interior Ministry battalion charged with fighting Islamic insurgents in the Caucasus.

In his March 8 supportive message, Kadyrov also said the motive for the February 27 killing of Nemtsov could have been related to a Charlie Hebdo cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad.

Kadyrov hasn't said anything further about the murder.

But the following day, after Russian President Vladimir Putin awarded him the Order of Honor, he still appeared to have gunfire on his mind.

"Dear Friends! Today I had a very rare day off," he wrote on Instagram. "I went with friends to the virtual shooting range.

"We were all unanimous in the opinion that it is periodically necessary to take a peek at the shooting range," he added.

The video shows Kadyrov and associates shooting people leaning out of cars, behind desks, and off of building ledges.

All virtual, of course.

It's not the first video that shows Kadyrov seeming to glorify gang warfare.
Take this one, posted on the Russian rapper Timati's official Instagram account less than a week after Nemtsov was killed.

It shows Kadyrov, in mock admonishment, wagging a finger at the camera.

"You've become brazen recently," he says, riffing off the catchphrase of a new Timati song, before the video cuts to a bound man being shut into the trunk of a Mercedes.

"Now you've done it! )))" Timati writes.

-- Glenn Kates

Video 'Russian Occupier' Parody Brings 'Pain, Hatred'

"Today I'm coming to you," the video warns, "Because I'm an occupier."

It's like a "greatest hits" tour of Russian imperialism -- Budapest, 1956; Prague, 1968; Kabul, 1979; Tbilisi, 1989, and Vilnius in 1991 -- and it's coming to a theater (of war) near you!

In what is shaping up to be a battle of occupation videos, a new two-minute parody has emerged on social media that counters many of the purported benefits of Russian imperialism laid out in the original I'm A Russian Occupier

Whereas the original video claimed Moscow brought wealth and development to the Baltic states, Central Asia, and Ukraine, the new clip exposes the uglier side of Russian intervention.

The clip has been posted on the Internet by several sources, including Stepan Demura, a prominent Russian financial analyst, who published it on his YouTube account on March 6.

"I invaded prospering Afghanistan...and left behind the worst hotspot on the planet ruled by arms, violence, and drugs," the parody claims in its stated effort to offer the Russian people a glimpse of how the world "REALLY" perceives the Russians. 

Filled with imagery contrasting war and poverty to modernity and happiness, the video says the average Pole is four times richer than the average Russian and that the Finns are producing telephones, clothing, and foodstuffs that the Russians can only dream of.

All of this was achieved only after "we were asked to leave and left" those countries, the video explains.

In an effort to show the consequences of Russian intervention, the video claims that the "Russian occupier" took the Kurile Islands from Japan, leaving people to "still catch fish and live with natural technology" while Japan operates with cutting-edge "future technology."

To the background images of distressed children and corpses lying in streets, the voice representing the Russian occupier claims, "it was me who arranged the Great Famine, the Holodomor, in Ukraine, where millions of people died of hunger."

Anti-Soviet demonstrations in Budapest in 1956, Prague in 1968, Tbilisi in 1989, and Vilnius in 1991 were left "drowning in blood" at the hands of Russian occupiers, the video says.

"Yet I haven't learnt how to build roads, make household appliances and proper clothes," the video claims, adding, "All I can do is bring pain and hatred."

"Today I'm coming to you," it warns, "Because I'm an occupier."

-- Farangis Najibullah

Afghan Men Don Burqas To Support Women

Afghan Men Don Burqas In Support Of Womeni
March 05, 2015
Dozens of activists, mainly young men, in Kabul have donned burqas to protest violence against women in Afghanistan, an unprecedented ​step in the deeply conservative country. (RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan)
WATCH: Dozens of activists, mainly young men, in Kabul have donned burqas to protest violence against women in Afghanistan, an unprecedented ​step in the deeply conservative country. (RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan)

The sight of burqa-clad women is common in Afghanistan. Burqa-clad men, not so much.

So when dozens of male activists took to the streets of Kabul on March 5, donned in the body-covering attire, the idea was to attract attention and raise awareness about violence against women. 

The protest, which comes ahead of International Women's Day on March 8, has raised eyebrows in the deeply religious and male-dominated country, where women face major obstacles in obtaining their rights despite hard-fought inroads made in the past decade.

The protesters, most of them men, gathered at the offices of Afghanistan's Independent Human Rights Commission in Kabul and held posters reading, "We say 'no' to all forms of violence." Some shouted that women should not be forced to wear the burqa when they leave their homes. One group chanted, "Don't tell women what to wear, keep your eyes away."

The demonstration comes after a female Afghan artist and activist made waves recently after wearing metal armor to protest street harassment in Kabul. Videos of Kabri Khademi marching through the capital, surrounded by groups of baffled men, made the rounds on social-networking sites Facebook and Twitter in late February. 

Street harassment of women is common in Afghanistan, and domestic and public abuse can include beatings, verbal insults, and even acid attacks.

In a report released last year, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said, "unchecked sexual harassment has been a significant obstacle to women's employment and participation in public life." It added that "harassment on the street is a daily experience for women and girls, and women who have sought help from the police in response to harassment and even threats have typically received no assistance."

At a March 5 event ahead of the upcoming International Women's Day, President Ashraf Ghani spoke out against violence against women. 

-- Frud Bezhan

Putin's Russia: How To Build A Culture Of Hatred In Five Easy Steps

"Putin on Poroshenko -- for mature audiences only" -- the tone of public discourse in Russia has deteriorated noticeably since the president came to power.

Some supporters of Russia's slain opposition leader Boris Nemtsov say that, in his 15 years in power, Vladimir Putin has systematically built a culture of hatred that has trained large swaths of the population to ignore, or even condone, violence. Here's how he did it.

1) Lower the tone of debate... Despite the Kremlin's recent crackdown on swearing, Putin has been peppering his rhetoric with vulgarities since the earliest days of his presidency, usually to connote emphatic distaste for a whole range of adversaries: Chechen militants, journalists, former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, and lazy leaders from the Commonwealth of Independent States who "just chew snot from one year to the next."
The effect of the resulting shock wave is twofold. On the one hand, it knocks the wind out of outsiders unused to this take on presidential discourse. On the other, it allows Russians like Vladimir Talismanov, a deputy dean at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology -- where Boris Nemtsov's son Anton is a student -- to feel that it is not only acceptable, but laudable, to publicly praise Nemtsov's assassination as leaving Russia with "one less scumbag" to worry about.
2) ... but insist you're a Great Nation. Putin has dedicated much of his presidency to rebuilding the notion of a great Russian state, resurrecting the central role of the Orthodox Church, attempting to drive up the birth rate, and burnishing the reputation of deservedly tarnished figures like Josef Stalin. (Hiring a few troll armies helps.)
At the same time, the Kremlin has adopted an increasingly unfriendly attitude towards national minorities, sexual minorities, and migrants, overlooking both xenophobic and homophobic attacks, and publishing pamphlets advising labor migrants to act "more Russian." The result? A disproportionately inflated but narrow sense of self, partnered with an irrational fear of anything "other." As one pundit wrote this week on a conservative website, "I'm Russian and I'm tired of apologizing for that!"
3) Expand accordingly. As we know, Putin ranks the dissolution of the Soviet Union high on the list of historical calamities. But that hasn't stopped him from seeking to rebuild a better Russia by assuming control of choice nearby territories, such as Crimea, and permanently weakening others by drumming up pro-Russian separatist sentiment --such as Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Transdniester, and Donbas.
Last year's militarized annexation of Crimea, despite the huge financial costs it will ultimately demand, proved tremendously popular in Russia, where many people felt the act was righting a historical wrong -- and throwing down the gauntlet to neighboring Ukraine.

Pro-Russian demonstrators rally in Crimean capital, Simferopol, in February last year.
Pro-Russian demonstrators rally in Crimean capital, Simferopol, in February last year.

4) Target your enemies. The standard of living for the average Russian has unquestionably suffered in the past year, with the local economy crushed under the dual burdens of Western sanctions and falling oil prices. But, while the prospect of food shortages and price hikes might prompt some Russians to question their government's decision-making, the Kremlin has handily turned the bleak scenario at home into a fresh opportunity to vilify not only Ukraine -- the reason for the sanctions -- but also the countries that endorse them, in particular the United States.
A convenient scapegoat, Washington has been blamed by Russians for everything from the Euromaidan protests and loose morals to the Charlie Hebdo attack and, most recently and perhaps most brazenly, Nemtsov's assassination. 

5) No, really -- target your enemies. When you control all major media in your country -- including the all-powerful airwaves -- it is easy to educate the population on what they should fear. For the past year, Russian media has stood by faithfully and Putin's language has grown more extremist in tone -- warning not only of outside threats but those at home.
Russians who opposed the Crimean annexation were "national traitors and a fifth column." Members of the Anti-Maidan nationalist movement decried the country's tiny liberal clan as members of a "fascist junta." Street signs and banners were hung from prominent city buildings showing portraits of Nemtsov, activist Aleksei Navalny, musician Aleksandr Makarevich, and others, and identifying them openly as traitors. "When they started displaying pictures of Boris and other prominent oppositionists around the city and on TV," says Garry Kasparov, "it was an invitation to execute them."
"The Kremlin is cultivating and rewarding the lowest instincts in people, provoking hatred and fighting," Nemtsov wrote on Facebooks just days before his killing. "People are set off against each other. This hell cannot end peacefully."

-- Daisy Sindelar

Video 'I'm A Russian Occupier' -- Video Sings Praises Of Russian Imperialism

According to the video, citizens of the Baltic states are now "cleaning toilets in Europe" while Central Asia allegedly lives off U.S. credits and the sale of marijuana.

A bellicose video gushing over Russia's invasion of its neighbors is making the rounds online, describing Russia as a civilizing force and warning the world not to "mess" with Moscow.

The clip, explicitly titled I'm A Russian Occupier, has been viewed almost 3 million times since being posted on February 27.

It was first uploaded to social networks by a blogger named Yevgeny Zhurov in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk but gained wide attention after Dmitry Rogozin, a Russian deputy prime minister and former ambassador to NATO known for his harsh anti-Western rhetoric, promoted the video on his Twitter account. 


Led by the United States and European Union, a number of countries have imposed sanctions against Russia over its actions in Ukraine, where Vladimir Putin's government annexed the Crimean peninsula and critics accuse it of continuing to foment, arm, and support pro-Russian separatism.

Russian officials have aggressively employed nationalism and anti-Western sentiment in public statements and within state-dominated media to rally support for the Kremlin's foreign-policy goals. They have also long stoked nostalgia for some aspects of the former Soviet order, in which Russian politics and culture held primacy.

The 2 1/2-minute film, which uses computer animation and graphics, defends Russia's Soviet-era occupation of neighboring countries by trying to demonstrate that these nations are far worse off since breaking out of Moscow's orbit:


Citizens of the Baltic states, it claims, are now "cleaning toilets in Europe" while Central Asia allegedly lives off U.S. credits and the sale of marijuana. 

It accuses Ukraine of destroying the industries painstakingly built by Russians and installing a "dictatorship" -- a jibe at the Western-friendly government that came to power in Kyiv following the protests that ousted pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych.

"Yes, I'm an occupant and I'm tired of apologizing for it," the video says. "I'm an occupier by birthright."

It goes on to reject Western democracy and values, including gay rights, and warn Russia's critics.

"I'll politely warn you for the last time: Do not mess with me! I build peace, I love peace, but more than anyone, I know how to fight."

The film ends with that message appearing to be sent to U.S. President Barack Obama.

-- Claire Bigg

'The West' Did It: Nemtsov Conspiracy Theory Snowballs In Russia

A man reacts at the site where veteran Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov was shot dead in central Moscow.

Since Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov’s slaying in central Moscow on February 27, numerous senior Russian officials, talking heads, and pro-Kremlin activists have insinuated or outright claimed that "the West" is responsible for the crime.

"Some kill in cold blood in front of movie cameras, with all of the cinematic flourishes and techniques, Islamist radicals do in the Middle East. Others kill in such a way that it appears they have nothing to do with another person’s death, mumbling something about democracy," Dmitry Kiselyov said on March 1 in his weekly news program Vesti Nedeli on the state-run Rossia-1 television channel.

Kiselyov, head of the state-owned media organization Russia Today who relentlessly decries what he calls attempts by the West to undermine Russia’s sovereignty, stopped short of directly accusing Western governments of organizing Nemtsov’s killing.

But in the segment, which featured a graphic reading "Bloody Provocation," he added that the West would benefit from the images of the crime scene on a bridge near the Kremlin on the eve of an antigovernment protest in Moscow that he said was destined to flop.

"No one would find out that the air was going out of the protest even before it started. Blood, stars, Nemtsov, bullets: Those are the associations they need," Kiselyov said.

Unlike Kiselyov, other prominent members of Russia’s political elite refused to dance around the conspiracy theory that the United States or Europe was responsible for killing Nemtsov in order to discredit Russian President Vladimir Putin and his government. 

"Why are we so scared of conspiracy theories? Look what the CIA does. They kidnap our citizens. They torture people. They do anything they want," Andrei Lugovoi, a deputy in Russia’s State Duma, said in a March 1 talk show broadcast on Rossia-1

Lugovoi, who is wanted in Britain in connection with the 2006 poisoning death of former Russian security-services officer Aleksandr Litvinenko, added that only the West benefited from the death of Nemtsov, a former deputy prime minister who became a vocal Putin critic and operated on the margins of Russia’s domestic political landscape at the time of his death.

"This clearly did not benefit the opposition or the authorities -- only the West. I am deeply convinced of this," said Lugovoi, who represents the ultranationalist Liberal Democratic Party in Russia’s lower chamber of parliament.

Another State Duma deputy, Valery Rashkin of the Communist Party, called Nemtsov’s assassination-style killing an "act of war against the entire Russian elite, a public demonstration with the message: 'We won't let anyone stop us.'" 

Rashkin claimed in a February 28 blog post that the killing was ordered by "a transnational group of the financial elite based in the United States" that has ties to former U.S. Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, wife of former U.S. President Bill Clinton. 

‘Provocation By The USA’

Russian-language Internet users have flooded social networks in recent days with accusations that the U.S. government was behind Nemtsov’s killing.

Michael McFaul, the former U.S. ambassador to Russia, suggested that the proliferation of these theories on Twitter were part of a "paid campaign" and said it was ironic that for years Nemtsov had been demonized by Kremlin supporters as an American pawn

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, whom rights activists and Western officials have accused of ordering extrajudicial killings both in Russia and abroad, saw no contradictions in Nemtsov's purported fealty to foreign paymasters that he claims were responsible for the slaying.

"There is no doubt that the murder of Nemtsov was organized by Western intelligence agencies who seek by any means to create internal conflict in Russia by any means possible," Kadyrov wrote in a February 28 Instagram post. "That’s what they do. First they take someone under their wings, call him a friend of America and Europe, and then sacrifice him in order to implicate the political leadership."

Other Kremlin supporters took this message directly to U.S. diplomats in the Russian capital.

In a February 28 tweet, pro-Putin youth activist Maria Katasanova, an assistant to hard-line United Russia lawmaker Yevgeny Fyodorov, posted a photograph of herself standing in front of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow holding a sign that reads: "Nemtsov’s murder is a provocation by the USA." 

Not all pro-Kremlin mouthpieces have rushed to accuse the United States or other Western governments of complicity in the crime.

Sergei Markov, a former State Duma deputy and veteran of the U.S. think tank world who once co-authored a book with McFaul, wrote in a February 28 Facebook post that the "dominant theory in Russia" that U.S. secret services were involved in Nemtsov’s killing is misplaced. 

"Nemtsov was clearly a pro-American politician," Markov wrote. "It’s hard for me to imagine that the U.S. government bureaucracy would give the green light to U.S. secret services to kill a famous pro-American politician."

He posited that it is "very likely" that Ukrainian security services are responsible for Nemtsov’s death.

-- Carl Schreck

The Week Ahead: March 2-8

March 3: Slain opposition politician Boris Nemtsov's funeral to be held in Moscow.

The Week Ahead is a detailed listing of key events of the coming week affecting RFE/RL's broadcast region.
Now on Twitter! Daily updates at @The_Week_Ahead.

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MONDAY, March 2:
Czech Republic: The 17th annual One World International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival opens in Prague (to March 11).​
Global: Barcelona hosts the Mobile World Congress (to March 5).
MoldovaDanish and Polish foreign ministers visit Chisinau for talks about the implementation of Association Agreement with the EU.
U.K.Chatham House in London hosts a discussion titled Digital Jihad: How Online Networks Are Changing Extremism.

U.K.Chatham House in London hosts a discussion titled Pakistan, Afghanistan, And A History Of Mistrust.
Ukraine/RussiaEU-mediated talks on Russia's gas deliveries to Ukraine are expected to be held in Brussels. 

TUESDAY, March 3: ​
Croatia/Bosnia-Herzegovina: Newly elected Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic visits Sarajevo for her first official foreign trip.

India/Pakistan: Indian Foreign Secretary Subrahmanyam Jaishankar visits Islamabad to resume talks between the two countries after a six-month break.
Russia: Slain opposition politician Boris Nemtsov's funeral to be held in Moscow.
Russia: Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev visits Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (to March 4).
Russia/BelarusRussian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka attend a meeting of the Supreme State Council of the Union State in Moscow.
U.K./Eastern PartnershipForeign Policy Center hosts a discussion titled Trouble In The Neighbourhood? The Future Of The EU's Eastern Partnership in Edinburgh.
U.S./Moldova: U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken visits Chisinau to meet with senior officials from the newly formed Moldovan government.
EU: The European Commission and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini launch a consultation on the future of the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP) in Brussels.

India/Afghanistan: Indian Foreign Secretary Subrahmanyam Jaishankar visits Kabul.
Kazakhstan: A French court expected to decide on extradition of the fugitive Kazakh tycoon Mukhtar Ablyazov.
U.S./U.K.U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken visits London to meet with senior U.K. government officials to discuss ongoing cooperation on a wide range of bilateral, regional, and global issues, including the crisis in Ukraine and counter-ISIL coordination.
THURSDAY, March 5:
Global: Geneva hosts the International Motor Show (to March 15).
U.S./GermanyU.S. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken visits Berlin to meet senior German officials to discuss a broad range of bilateral, regional, and global issues.
U.S./Russia/Ukraine: Atlantic Council in Washington hosts a discussion titled Human Rights Abuses In Russian-Occupied Crimea.
FRIDAY, March 6:
U.S./Middle East: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry visits London to meet with Gulf foreign ministers to discuss shared regional priorities.
U.S./UkraineU.S. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken visits Kyiv to meet with senior government officials and civil society representatives.
SATURDAY, March 7:
U.S./France: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry travels to Paris, meets with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.
SUNDAY, March 8:

About This Blog

Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at

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