GROZNY, Russia -- Police in Russia's North Caucasus region of Chechnya have launched a probe against a relative of authoritarian leader Ramzan Kadyrov.
The Chechen Interior Ministry said on October 25 that the investigation was launched into Islam Kadyrov over a video on a state television channel, which showed him hitting a woman with an electric shocker and threatening to physically "punish" other people, demanding them to "confess" to financial fraud, financing terrorists, and other crimes.
The video shown by the ChGRTK TV channel on October 24 was shot some time between 2012 and 2015 while Islam Kadyrov was mayor of the Chechen capital, Grozny. The video also shows Islam Kadyrov with his associates personally visiting residents of Grozny who hadn't paid their utility bills, hurling vulgar insults at them.
Ramzan Kadyrov's press secretary Alvi Karimov says in the video that Islam Kadyrov was sacked from the post for "inappropriate work methods."
Sources in the administration of Chechnya's leadership told RFE/RL that the decision to broadcast the video was made with Ramzan Kadyrov's approval.
In mid-October, the Moscow-based Novaya Gazeta newspaper wrote about a purge of Ramzan Kadyrov's close circle. According to the newspaper, many Chechen officials are currently being kept in secret prisons where they are being tortured "to confess to treason."
Ramzan Kadyrov called the report "a 1,000-percent lie."
Rights activists say that Ramzan Kadyrov rules through repressive measures and has created a climate of impunity for security forces in the region. They claim Kadyrov is ultimately responsible for abuses of political opponents by Chechen authorities that include kidnappings, forced disappearances, torture, and extrajudicial killings.
Kremlin critics say Putin turns a blind eye to the alleged abuses and violations of the Russian Constitution by Kadyrov because he relies on the former rebel commander to control separatist sentiments 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.
Islam Kadyrov is a son of Ramzan Kadyrov's second cousin.