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Chechen Parliament Speaker Back At The Public Shaming Game

  • Tom Balmforth

Chechen parliament speaker Magomed Daudov (right) with the region's strongman leader Ramzan Kadyrov (file photo)

MOSCOW -- Maryat Zanzulayeva, who recently spoke out against a spate of police arrests and beatings that took place in Chechnya, has become the latest person in the Russian republic to be browbeaten by its powerful parliament speaker.

Zanzulayeva absorbed a verbal reprimand dished out this week on local-government-run TV after speaker Magomed Daudov, a close ally of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, "invited" her to speak to him.

The invitation came after her appearance in a video posted online on March 27 in which she is seen speaking at a gathering of residents in Davydenko following reports of police abuses there stemming from an apparent land-registry dispute.

Daudov thanked her for having "accepted his offer," saying that "it is the duty of lawmakers to examine complaints." And then he laid into her.

RFE/RL's North Caucasus Service published a short extract of the dialogue between Zanzulayeva and the lawmaker.

"Maryat, has anyone touched you?"

"No," she replies, barely audibly.

"Has anyone touched your mother?"

"No."

"Did you see anyone from law-enforcement officers touch other village residents?"

"No."

"Remember the Chechen adats," Davydenko says, referring to the customary laws of the North Caucasus region that can allow for retribution. "You insulted someone, comparing them to a bull's cheek. If he writes a statement about being insulted, you will be brought to account. You're not even from this village, you were born in Naur, but are speaking up for the residents of Davydenko. That's not nice. And not typical for a Chechen.”

"I didn't know I was being filmed," she says. "Everything I said is untrue. I ask for your forgiveness."

WATCH: Maryat Zanzulayeva​ Is Upbraided On Chechen TV (in Russian and Chechen, no subtitles)


The Caucasian Knot news agency had reported on March 26 that police assaulted villagers, including an elderly woman, seized residents' mobile phones, fired into the air, and placed three residents under arrest.

That incident reportedly occurred after villagers refused to pay huge fines for newly built houses that local authorities said had not been properly registered.

Zanzulayeva's body language in the clip aired on TV suggested she had not come of her own accord and that she was afraid. Her eyes pointed downwards and her shoulders were hunched over.

Authorities in Chechnya -- including its strongman leader, Kadyrov -- have been criticized for publicly shaming Chechens or coercing them into apologies if they criticize the powers that be.

In December 2015, Kadyrov trotted social worker Ayshat Inayeva and her husband before the cameras for a televised upbraiding. She had complained about Kadyrov and accused him of overseeing endemic corruption during a two-minute audio message posted to Whatsapp.

Daudov gained national headlines in January when he threatened the chief editor of Caucasian Knot, Grigory Shvedov -- whom he calls the "Swede" in reference to the journalist's surname -- saying it is time "to pull a couple of wisdom teeth from the Swede and shorten his tongue to a normal size."

A year earlier, Daudov openly threatened the liberal Russian opposition, whom he called "traitors" and a "fifth column." Posting a photograph of his slavering attack dog, Tarzan, he warned them that its "fangs are itching" to get at the opposition.

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    Tom Balmforth

    Tom Balmforth covers Russia and other former Soviet republics. He can be reached at balmfortht@rferl.org

     

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