Tuesday, August 30, 2016


Chechen Leader Denies Blame For Killings, Accuses West Of Violence

'The wildest violence in the world takes place in the West,' says Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, pictured here at his residence in Gudermes, outside Grozny.
'The wildest violence in the world takes place in the West,' says Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, pictured here at his residence in Gudermes, outside Grozny.
Prominent Russian human rights activist Natalya Estemirova was abducted outside her home in the Chechen capital, Grozny, last month. Hours later, her body was discovered in a forest in the neighboring region of Ingushetia. Estemirova, who'd investigated abductions, torture and other rights abuses in Chechnya, had been shot in the head.

Estemirova's colleagues blame Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov. They accuse him of fostering an atmosphere of impunity in which the abductions and killings of his critics take place. But in an exclusive interview with RFE/RL, Kadyrov denies the accusations. He says his only concern is the welfare of Chechnya's residents, and blames the West for spreading lies about him.

The interview, excerpted below, was conducted at 2 a.m. August 8 at Kadyrov's sprawling residential complex outside Grozny by RFE/RL correspondents Gregory Feifer, Danila Galperovich, and Oleg Kusov.

RFE/RL: Mr. President, please describe your program for rebuilding Chechnya.

Ramzan Kadyrov: I don’t have my own program. We're carrying out the program drawn up by my father [the late Chechen President Akhmed-hadji Kadyrov]. It's difficult to say exactly how much it will cost and what it will look like. Every year the economy suffers losses but also sees gains and no one knows what's going to happen tomorrow. The only thing I can say is that we'll fully rebuild Chechnya and solve every social problem. Chechnya will be the most successful region in Russia and the world.

RFE/RL: Can you explain why you believe yourself to be best qualified among Chechens to bring stability and economic success to the region?

I'm just one member of a team. We have a very strong team, and I serve the people of Chechnya.


RFE/RL: For many in the West, the image of Chechnya is of a region of violence, like the Wild West. How do you explain that?

The wildest violence in the world takes place in the West. People are being killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Palestinians are being killed. Human rights are being completely violated. There are concentration camps and there's no individual freedom [in the West]. If someone says the wrong thing, he's an enemy.

But Chechnya is a part of the Russian Federation. All Russian laws are observed here. Yes, human rights violations take place here, too. That happens everywhere. But if someone violates the law here, even if he's a police or special forces officer, he will be punished.

RFE/RL: International organizations say there is an atmosphere of impunity for violence in Chechnya. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International believe many human rights violations are being carried out by law enforcers and the authorities -- that is, your subordinates. How do you answer those accusations?

I want to say first of all that the security structures aren’t subordinate to the president [of Chechnya]. The heads of those services are appointed by the president of Russia, as I am. That includes the head of the Federal Security Service in Chechnya. But as the guarantor of the constitution, I am trying to make them subordinate [to the government in Chechnya] and act properly.

RFE/RL correspondents Danila Galperovich (left) and Gregory Feifer interview Kadyrov at his home in Gudermes.
But we're not angels. Human rights are violated all over the world. America pressures absolutely everyone. And no one says anything about it. Take [Georgia's separatist region of] South Ossetia. The Americans snuck in there at night, shot up the entire population, and left. And everyone's silent about it.

But my father was killed. I've lost thousands of people I know. I've lost relatives, classmates and friends. And no one says Kadyrov has lost them, that Kadyrov has rights, too. Everyone's silent about that. When terrorists set off bombs in the center of Grozny, killing police, women, and children, human rights activists say nothing about that. Why don’t they protect my rights? Kadyrov has lost everything. But whenever something happens in Chechnya -- where there are a million residents -- if someone violates the law, it's always Kadyrov who's to blame.

RFE/RL: You complain you've been blamed for all but introducing Islamic Shari’a law to Chechnya. Do you consider Chechen society to be deeply religious? And is Shari’a law compatible with Russian law?

The Russian Federation's laws function here 100 percent. No one has the right to violate the Russian and Chechen constitutions. But we also observe traditional Islam that our ancestors brought to the Caucasus. So we follow what they've left for us while also carrying out policies that don’t violate the Russian Constitution. One doesn’t harm the other.

We are building mosques and opening holy places. We're opening the Russian Islamic University on August 22. But we're also building churches and helping Christians. I'm against Islamic extremism. We have complete democracy in that regard in Chechnya -- freedom of speech, freedom of religion. Anyone can adopt any religion here.

Murdered rights activist Natalya Estemirova
RFE/RL: You've promised to oversee an objective investigation into the murder of Natalya Estemirova. But her colleagues blame you for her killing. Why not appoint, or welcome, an independent figure to ensure that objectivity?

Why invite people from outside to do that if we have our own laws here? Are investigations in the Russian Federation conducted worse than in other countries? A full investigation is being carried out.

[Memorial head] Oleg Orlov blamed me [for Estemirova's death]. That human rights defender violated my human rights. He should have protected me as an individual and thought about what he was going to say. But he accused me of being a murderer. He said that Kadyrov killed Estemirova. I told him, "Mr. Orlov, you're an adult. Be a real person for once in your life and tell me why you violated my rights?" He replied saying, "That's not what I meant. I meant you in your role as president."

They [human rights activists] are all lawyers. The texts they write follow the letter of the law. [Orlov] told me he blamed me as president, as the guarantor of the constitution. They're very good lawyers. But if they say that Kadyrov or his people are to blame, let them prove it. Why would Kadyrov kill women that no one needs?

[Estemirova] never had any honor or sense of shame. And still I appointed her head of a [civil society advisory] commission with the mayor of Grozny as her deputy. I wanted to be objective about addressing the issue. But she didn’t like it. She would say stupid things. I told her, "You're a woman, and we're trying to do something for the people. But if it doesn't work, don’t blame us." I said I would show her the city budget and told her to try to do better. She said, "Yes, I understand."

So I said I'd disband the commission, thanks very much for your work, but I don’t trust you. I didn’t treat her gently. I didn't tell her I loved her. I told it like it was. We were both acting in our professional capacities. She was the head of the commission, and I, as the president of Chechnya, was evaluating her work. So why am I to blame? Let the investigators conduct their work. If Kadyrov or his people are to blame, let them be tried and jailed.

Kadyrov talks about slain rights activist Natalya Estemirova, whom some regard as the latest victim of Kadyrov-Kremlin policies: 

Kadyrov Talks About Estemirovai
|| 0:00:00
August 11, 2009
Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov is overseeing a probe into the murder of rights activist Natalya Estemirova, despite charges that he was involved in the killing. RFE/RL asked him why he hasn't appointed an independent figure to ensure objectivity.

RFE/RL: What's your relationship to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev?

Putin is my idol. I love him. I respect him. There's no one else like him, personally for me. I owe him more than anyone else. I owe him my life. That's my personal opinion. But as the president of Chechnya, I can say Dmitry Medvedev is our president. He's a strong, wise, and proper politician, and if he were any different he wouldn’t have been elected. His team wouldn't have supported him.

Kadyrov (left) with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in Grozny in October 2008
By lowering his status [by stepping down as president], Putin again showed his strength and that he's a servant of the people. But that doesn’t change my attitude toward him. I'd still give my life for him.

RFE/RL: Would you like to see Putin become president again?

Very much. I want Putin to be president of Russia for life.
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
by: gary from: cinti. ohio
August 09, 2009 12:24
I am no expert ,but I do believe that mr.president is complicate in this murder.he is flaunting it in front pf the international commmunity with impunity,but putin will be his waterlo.

by: Ray from: Lawrence, KS
August 09, 2009 16:29
Good interview; surprised that you made it out in one piece. Couple of questions for the folks at RFE: Does this type of interview, using this new technology (where we can watch RK playing billiards with balls instead of skulls) lend legitimacy to his authority? On a more fundamental basis, is a Kadyrov-type order preferable to the chaos of civil/tribal war? My guess is that the US would willingly support such a puppet in Iraq and/or Afghanistan if he can deliver (i.e. stop massive bloodshed/chaos). Who knows, this may be the first step in the transformation of RK into a peacemaker.

by: asehpe from: Netherlands
August 09, 2009 18:13
Kadyrov obviously knows next to nothing about democracy and how it works. His concept of &quot;human rights&quot; is also quite at variance with the real meaning of these words.<br /><br />Poor Chechnya...

by: alakbar from: Washington
August 10, 2009 01:58
This guy is really insane...<br />God help Chechnia

by: James K from: Canada
August 10, 2009 02:26
I agree with previous comment that Putin will keep Kadyrov around for as long as necessary but not a minute longer. In my opinion I see no difference in either man. Both are self-serving thugs ready to make anything happen in order to protect their positions - murder included. I sympathize with the average Chechen person, they've suffered so much and the future doesn't look any better. I hope I'm wrong.

by: Mike from: Monterey, California
August 10, 2009 23:44
Ramzan Kadyrov is exactly the man Chechnya needs to establish peace and security in a region that has been war-torn on and off since 1784 when the invading Russians touched off the first jihad by razing the village of the Sheikh Mansur. Kadyrov has been fighting a guerilla war since he was 16 years old with his father Akhmad-hajji (who rose to the position of national mufti under the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria from '96-'99). Instances of human rights violations are documented throughout the last 15 years on both sides (Federal troops and Moscow-backed warlords vs. a variety of insurgent groups). Implicating Kadyrov personally is a common, but pointless tactic. He is backed by Moscow. The rising problem for Moscow is controlling the man they've created as Kadyrov exercises more autonomy than any other leader of a Russian autonomous republic, okrug, or krai -- and now he's extending that hegemony in Chechnya into Ingushetia in the interest of security. His actions are rationalized as he tries to crush the Caucasian Emirate led by Umar Dokku - who desires to reunite the entire Northern Caucasus in an Islamic Emirate. As far as the interview question about Shari'a law, the sooner Chechens fully take hold of their Sufist roots, the sooner the Salafist/Wahabbist insurgency will completely die out in Chechnya. What's the point of my rant? Ramzan Kadyrov is the right man for the job given the culture, history, and traditions of the Chechen people.

by: Zach from: England
August 11, 2009 11:58
Let me just say right now, Kadyrov is the worst man for the job. There is no way that all of the Chechen people are being represented by a leader that they have never elected. He is just a puppet of Putin. In his interview he talked about the west wanting to take over the Caucuses, and after talking to my many friends in Grozny, the west is what is needed there. Maybe then all the killing of the human rights activist would stop. I hate seeing the Chechens suffer and I can't wait till the day of their independance!!

by: Mike from: Monterey, California
August 12, 2009 18:42
The &quot;right&quot; man for the job was Akhmad-hajji Kadyrov. Unfortunately, he was blown up on May 9th, 2004 by operatives of the now-defunct, &quot;government&quot; in exile of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria. Chechen society is clan-based, and the power of the Kadyrov clan is with Ramzan. Ergo de facto, he is the right man for the job. [Why is the ChRI government defunct? Because it became increasingly Salafist influenced from '96 until '99 when the IIPB invaded Dagestan and gave Moscow, and the new PM, Putin, the pretext to crush the breakaway republic. The government went into exile and coordinated the insurgency until 2006 when intense counter-insurgency operations killed the majority of the leadership. After the blood-letting in 2006, Doku Umarov (misnamed in my earlier post) proclaimed the North Caucasian Emirate and himself Amir, thus the only remaining ChRI leadership a prime minister in exile in London without a country or a cause.] &quot;Never elected&quot; and &quot;puppet of Putin&quot; have very little meaning. Kadyrov was appointed by then-President Putin, which is how government works in Russia today. Let's not forget that the Republic of Chechnya is not a sovereign state - it is part of Russia. Furthermore, Zach, I completely disagree that &quot;the West is what is needed there.&quot; Chechnya, and Russia for that matter, need to find their own way. The West screwed things up in the first place when we tried to democratize the giant overnight in the 1990s.<br />

by: Kootamzhizhik from: UK
August 13, 2009 14:47
I presume 'Mike' from the US, is Mikhael, sitting in comfortable surroundings having luxuriated himself away to the US on fantasy exile. I am Chechen refugee. Thousands of us live in the 'diaspora' of Europe going nowhere. <br />Kadyrov is a proven Rapist- Makka Sugaipova the singer in hiding. He is a murderer on a personal level and in his capacity as president.<br />This strongarm politicking is ALIEN to Chechens who traditionally follow a rule by consensus with loose governing structures. He is a Neo-Stalinist, a Russian product through and through.<br />A few Potemkin Mosques and streets cannot hide the rot in Chechnya.<br />As for Akhmad Haji- a national traitor. A quisling. In world war two, such people were killed, and today is no different. The current regime is no better than a Nazi or Bolshevik regime. A few cosmetic improvements do not hide the hideousness of the cancer that is rotting away at, and eating at the whole of the North Caucasus. <br />Dokka Umarov though not perfect is a vastly more honourable man and is quietly loved by the people. Kadyrov is hated. Brutalitarianism and murder are no basis for the rule of any society. For 'Mike' to talk so crassly is an utter abject betrayal of Democracy and an insult to our nation, who of all people survived the horrors of deportation, and today still labour under oppression. <br />You get out of Monteray and come live in Grozny if you are so clever.

by: Borz from: United Kingdom
August 17, 2009 01:14
I completely agree with my fellow Chechen brother from the UK. Many a Russian or their sympathiser can sit there and pretentiously opine with some pseudo-imperialistic aplomb that Putin's appointment of half-wit Kadyrov to rule Chechnya was the best, indeed the only solution for prosperity of the Chechen people. Those of us who live in exile abroad didn’t do this out of fancy or because we particularly enjoy the 'welcome' of various national asylum systems (go on, try it, anyone?!); we all did this for on reason only – to survive the continuous Russian oppression and to maintain our freedom of thought and individual expression. One who didn’t experience the ghastly brutality of countrywide systematic discrimination based on ethnicity (in our case, Chechen nationality) will never understand how it feels.<br /><br />And yes, I completely second my compatriots proposal – let all those praising Kadyrov’s virtues travel to Grozny and live in this ‘heavenly place’ for about a month, say, but under the exact conditions as do ordinary Chechens (NB: staying at Kadyrov’s villa as a special guest won’t qualify). If after this you still maintain your ardent loyalty to RK, then you should stay in his fiefdom indefinitely, for you will have found your ‘Eden’. But seriously, I very much doubt there will be many volunteers queuing up to visit Kadyrov’s ostensibly thriving pro-Russian Chechnya of today.<br />
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