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The Daily Vertical: Putin's Role Model (Transcript)


He's like a cartoon villain, except that he's real.

He can be pretty amusing, except when he's terrifying.

He's a bit of a clown and more than a bit childish, but he's also one of the most powerful men in Russia.

And ever since Vladimir Putin turned him into a made man a decade ago this week, Ramzan Kadyrov has been pretty much impossible to ignore.

When Putin named the then-30-year old Kadyrov as Chechnya's leader on February 15, 2006, the idea was simple.

Put a loyal warlord in charge and give him a green light to kill and steal as much as he wants in exchange for taming the restive North Caucasus republic and beating it into submission.

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But a decade of Kadyrov's rule has resulted less in the "Putinization" of Chechnya than in the "Kadyrovization" of Russia.

Like Kadyrov, Putin has increasingly relied on a cult of personality and bread-and-circuses showmanship to shore up his legitimacy.

Like Kadyrov, Putin has increasingly forced puritan religious values on society.

Just as Kadyrov has his "Kadyrovtsy," the battle-hardened and heavily armed paramilitaries loyal to the Chechen strongman alone, Putin has created his own Praetorian Guard force in the form of a National Guard under the command of his uber-loyal former bodyguard.

And as the assassination of Boris Nemtsov starkly illustrated two years ago, the extrajudicial killings of opposition figures that have long been routine in Chechnya are a reality in Moscow as well.

A decade ago, Putin took a gamble that a rambunctious and volatile warlord would solve his Chechen problem once and for all.

But while Kadyrov may have been Putin's loyal servant, he has also become his role model.

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