GROZNY, Russia -- The grand mufti of Russia's North Caucasus region of Chechnya, Salakh Mezhiyev, has approved a sentence of torture and humiliation for a 19-year-old Chechen blogger and warned of consequences for an exiled member of the Chechen separatist government, Akhmed Zakayev, who condemned the penalty.
In a video statement posted on Instagram on September 13, Mezhiyev called the teenager "a dirty creature, who received what he deserved."
Video of the torture and humiliation of the young Chechen, who criticized Chechen police and the region's authoritarian leader Ramzan Kadyrov on the opposition 1ADAT Telegram channel, circulated over the Internet last week and shocked people in Chechnya and beyond.
Zakayev, who resides in London, on September 8 issued a statement in which he called himself a moderator of the 1ADAT Telegram channel and condemned Chechen authorities for recording the teenager’s humiliation and placing the video on the Internet, referring to the ordeal as “a gross shame.”
Mezhiyev took aim at Zakayev in his statement, warning of repercussions for what he said.
"You do not have a place to go. You will be found and held responsible, there is no doubt about it," Mezhiyev said.
Zakayev said last week that his relatives in Chechnya had been detained after Parliamentary Speaker Magomed Daudov stated that Zakayev will be "held responsible" for his involvement in the activities of the 1ADAT Telegram channel.
A former Chechen militant who fought against Russian forces in the first Chechen war, Kadyrov has been accused by Russian and international rights activists of numerous human rights violations, including torture, kidnapping, disappearances, extrajudicial executions, and the assassination of personal and political enemies both in Russia and abroad.
Kremlin critics say Putin has turned a blind eye to the alleged abuses and violations of the country's constitution by Kadyrov because he relies on the former rebel commander to control separatist sentiment and violence in Chechnya, the site of two devastating post-Soviet wars and an Islamist insurgency that spread to other mostly Muslim regions in the North Caucasus.