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Ramzan Kadyrov: The Kremlin's Id

The dark side of the Kremlin
The dark side of the Kremlin
By Brian Whitmore

Ramzan Kadyrov hasn't gone rogue. Ramzan Kadyrov isn't off message. Ramzan Kadyrov hasn't jumped the shark.

No, the mercurial Chechen leader is playing his role to a tee.

After calling Vladimir Putin's foes "enemies of the people," and after the speaker of his rubber-stamp legislature called liberal media outlets like Ekho Moskvy and Dozhd TV "traitors" and a "fifth column," Kadyrov upped the ante with an article in the pro-Kremlin daily Izvestia calling Russia's opposition "jackals" and suggesting they be placed in a psychiatric hospital in Chechnya.

"I promise not to skimp on the injections," Kadyrov wrote. "In cases where one injection is prescribed, we will double the dosage."

Articles like this don't appear in Izvestia by accident.

In many ways, Kadyrov is the Putin regime's collective id. He manifests its basic instinct. Its intrinsic aggression. Its deepest, darkest desires.

And Kadyrov is often a harbinger.

And, if anybody doubts that, they should recall the massive rally Kadyrov held with 20,000 armed and uniformed volunteers in a football stadium in Grozny on December 28, 2014.

At that rally, Kadyrov pledged to defend Putin against all his opponents foreign and domestic.

In a chillingly prescient post on Facebook, opposition leader Boris Nemtsov speculated about what it might mean.

"I can't understand what Putin is expecting when 20,000 of Kadyrov's fighters gather in a stadium in Grozny. Kadyrov said his fighters are ready to defend the regime and execute any order from the Kremlin. I believe this," Nemtsov wrote.

"So where will Kadyrov's 20,000 fighters go? What will be required of them? How should we behave? When will they arrive in Moscow?"

And two months later, on February 27, 2015, we all know what happened: Nemtsov was gunned down in Moscow, just blocks from the Kremlin.

The key suspects, of course, were members of the Sever Battalion, a security force Kadyrov controls. 

The fact that Kadyrov's latest antics came with the one-year anniversary of Nemtsov's assassination approaching, has been lost on nobody.

And to make things even creepier, some of the language Kadyrov used at the December 2014 rally and this week's Izvestia article is disturbingly similar.

"And we say to the entire world that we are Vladimir Putin's combat infantry.If we receive an order, we will actually prove that this is so," Kadyrov said in Grozny then.

And in Izvestia this week, he wrote the following: "As a patriot, as Vladimir Putin's infantryman, I will never play around with murderers and traitors to my country."

Kadyrov didn't name names. But his ally, Chechen parliament speaker Magomed Daudov, did in a post on Instagram that appeared shortly before Kadyrov's Izvestia article.

Daudov singled out Igor Kalyapin, head of the Committee to Prevent Torture; Aleksei Veneditkov, editor-in-chief of the Ekho Moskvy radio station; human rights activist Lev Ponomaryov; and opposition activist Ilya Yashin.

And to drive his point home, Daudov posted a photo of a menacing dog straining against a leash. 

"Who writes these posts? Why are they written? Is it the initiative of the Chechen leadership or an order from Moscow? What will happen next? Will anyone get killed?" opposition journalist Oleg Kashin -- himself the victim of a violent attack in November 2010 -- wrote in a recent column in Slon.

With oil prices tanking with no end in sight, the ruble approaching historic lows, and Russia's recession deepening, the regime is clearly worried about civic unrest and threats to their rule. 

And in an effort to strike fear into the hearts of the opposition, it appears they've unchained their id. 

Kadyrov is determined to prove that he is the leader of Putin's "Praetorian Guard or the Oprichnina, who will find and catch every enemy," former television anchor Nikolai Svanidze, a member of the Kremlin's Human Rights Council, told RBK.
And, for his part, Putin is pleased that Kadyrov intimidates the opposition and has "neither the desire nor the opportunity" to rein him in.

The only question now is: How far will Kadyrov go?

WATCH: The Daily Vertical -- Kadyrov's Rants Are On Message

The Daily Vertical: Kadyrov's Rants Are On Messagei
January 19, 2016
The Daily Vertical is a video primer for Russia-watchers that appears Monday through Friday. Viewers can suggest topics via Twitter @PowerVertical or on the Power Vertical Facebook page.

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
by: Drinker
January 19, 2016 17:33
Is it not about time a government took this odious animal out, and put two fingers up to Putin and the rest of his henchmen , Stalin and Hitler must be laughing !
In Response

by: Democracy from: Earth
January 19, 2016 21:01
Russia is a society formed and governed by fear for centuries.

This will not change in the near future if at all.

We can only pray and hope for them but never let our guard down.

by: Yoshua
January 19, 2016 18:19
Freaking Hell ! Election year and the Beast is angry !

by: Un
January 19, 2016 19:17
Bad Putin

by: Mr Stuie from: UK
January 19, 2016 20:36
If the central Russian government is scared of civil unrest then Kadyrov's clan is even more so, with many other clans of Russian politics being quite opposed to Kadyrov's behavior and the agreement that let his father play the pretend game where Chechnya pretends to be Russian territory and Russia can pretend it won the war. These other clans would be very happy to do away with Kadyrov were it not for the orders of just one man, Vladimir Putin. Shaky foundations if nothing else. Any threat to Putin's leadership is implicitly a threat to Kadyrov's life.

When he says he is Putin's soldier, that is both the truth and a lie. He is only interested in being King of Chechnya but in order for that to be the case he has to keep Putin propped up in the Kremlin, if it means sending 20,000 elite foot soldiers to invade Russia under a Russian flag then that is what he will do.

by: Ray from: US
January 19, 2016 22:13
One wonders how genuinely popular the dear little leader is within Ichkeria. Could he meet the same fate as his father? For those who understand Russia, two angry Chechens here:

by: mark fellows from: UK
January 19, 2016 22:30
It will be interesting to see how loyal Kadyrov really is to Putin.

And what is really disturbing in the long run is that he commands a separate army INSIDE Russia. If Putin goes or things fall apart, Kadyrov might well be a key player in a civil war far beyond the Caucasus.

by: Oleh from: Ternopil
January 20, 2016 03:28
Putin and Kadyrov are international criminals. They are responsible for thousands deaths. Modern Nuremberg trial is awaiting for Putin and Kadyrov.

by: Vakhtang from: Moscow
January 20, 2016 03:35
I want to remind you that intimidate russian people by mountain savages invented not comrade Putin.
during the time of Tsar Nicholas II, his ministers frightened disgruntled peasants and workers by "Wild Division", which was formed from сhechens:
"If you are going to behave badly, evil Chechens will come to you and will cut you as a piglets..."
Mr. Whitmore has forgotten that a long ago I warned that our "bearded friend" with a dagger can also get to Prague, he can kill anyone without hesitation if Putin give him permission.
On the other hand, we see that the collapse of Russia may begin from the North Caucasus.
Obviously, that caucasians dislike russian people and despising their customs, traditions, lifestyle..
Of course, Putin could yet exploit this factor:
"If something happens to me, then evil Chechens will come slit your throat and Russia might fall apart.."
.....but we know that Putin is not Duncan MacLeod..
Today the danger of the collapse of Russia, the possibility of civil war, the collapse of the Russian economy is extremely fault of Putin and his henchmen..

In Response

by: Anonymous
January 20, 2016 06:38
Hahaha :) Chechens were shepherds, and they were ruling by Dagestan warlords like sheeps until 1850s. What makes them warriors ? they are grandsons of peasants, and some cunning thieves.

They are so mockery in Caucasus, are these people Muslims ? or buffoons ?

by: Michael from: Germany
January 20, 2016 23:33
I looked into the RFE/RL's homepage, and saw that on the same page there are four reporting about the Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov (1.Putin Critics See Endorsement Of Kadyrov Threats; 2.Has Ramzan Kadyrov Finally Gone Too Far? 3.Ramzan Kadyrov: The Kremlin's Id; 4.Kadyrov: Russian Opposition 'Jackals' Will Be 'Punished').

This is rarely seen in the RFE/RL's website that four reports being devoted to one personality at the same time. I think this is not a coincidence. This means Ramzan Kadyrov by his firm policy against terrorists, including ISIS, has caused serious concerns among the true sponsors of terrorists - American Zionists. In recent years, there is a general trend - if the US condemns someone in "bad deeds," It must be perceived reversely: this person is really fighting for justice and promoting the interests of the majority. American satanic policy has taught us to this truth.

by: Bruce K.F from: US
January 21, 2016 00:11
It is a strange thing that our American journalists overseas talk only about the "unjust" policies of other countries, but not about our American brutalities, and our people are so willing to believe those fairy tales in the name of patriotism.

It is often argued that the government of the (almost) United States would never kill its own citizens. People who espouse that argument are not aware of our own history.

From the Whiskey Rebellion, Bonus Army, Battle of Blair Mountain, Executive Order 9066, Little Rock Nine, Kent State shootings, 1992 Los Angeles riots Ruby Ridge, the Branch Davidians, Hurricane Katrina, Anwar today it goes on.

At the battle of Omaha Beach the General Staff was well aware of the losses BEFORE sending troops into that slaughter (in excess of 50%).

So the mistaken belief that government is there for the protection of the citizen is beyond reality.
In Response

by: Neil Nelson from: UT, USA
January 22, 2016 03:32
Bruce, I do not know what the expected losses at Omaha Beach has to do with your argument. Men are killed in battle toward reaching a military objective. Omaha Beach was taken by the afternoon on the first day. Your remark expresses profound ignorance and disrespect for the soldiers who died there.
Comments page of 2

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The Power Vertical is a blog written especially for Russia wonks and obsessive Kremlin watchers by Brian Whitmore. It offers Brian's personal take on emerging and developing trends in Russian politics, shining a spotlight on the high-stakes power struggles, machinations, and clashing interests that shape Kremlin policy today. Check out The Power Vertical Facebook page or