Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov, who has been accused of egregious human rights abuses in the Russian republic, was this week unanimously dubbed 2012's "Person of the Year" by jurors in a ceremony in Grozny.
The news emerged via the Kadyrov administration's website late on April 30. Reports were subsequently carried by Russian news outlets citing Kadyrov’s press service.
Kadyrov won the contest in the "pride of the nation" category. It was unclear who else had been nominated or who was on the jury.
Kadyrov is a highly decorated Russian citizen. He is a Hero of the Russian Federation and holds an Order of Courage and an Order for Services for the Motherland, to name just a few of his honors.
According to the Chechen government website
, 11 prizes were issued in various categories, ranging from sport to health care and culture to politics.
Kadyrov personally bestowed 2012's "Best Manager" award upon his relative, Islam Kadyrov, the mayor of Grozny. Islam Kadyrov was made mayor after elections in November. It is unclear how closely the two are related.
Chechnya’s leader said the prizes were aimed at “noting the achievements of people who bring glory upon their people and their motherland.” In comments reported by the administration website, Kadyrov said that these achievements “bring glory not only on Chechnya but on the whole of Russia and it is our duty to encourage [such achievements].”
Kadyrov cited Olympic gold medalist Dzhamal Otarsultanov as an example. Otarsultanov was awarded "Person of the Year" in the sports category.
Kasum Ospanov, a correspondent for a local official Chechen news outlet, was recognized as "Journalist of the Year."
Reporting the next day, the same publication wrote: “Ramzan Kadyrov personally decided to see those who had contributed to the development of the region.”
The awards were reportedly set up in 2005 by Chechnya's Youth Ministry, but RFE/RL was unable to find any record of previous winners.
-- Tom Balmforth