Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov has been engaged in an increasingly chilling confrontation with opponents and critics of Russian President Vladimir Putin -- people he now routinely refers to as enemies of the people and puppets of the West.
Kadyrov's bald threats have amplified the key question of whether he is acting in concert with the Kremlin -- and, if not, why hasn't Putin reined him in?
Kadyrov usually posts his rants and rhetoric on Instagram, but his latest was published on January 19 in Izvestia, a pro-Kremlin paper that is one of Russia's oldest -- a possible sign of approval at the highest levels.
RFE/RL has translated Kadyrov's article in full:
The Jackals Will Be Punished Under Russian Law
My rhetoric about those who call for the overthrow of the state system and changes in Russia's borders has not changed. I called these haters of Russia traitors to the Motherland and enemies of the people in 2010, and in 2011, and in 2012. I am truly surprised that this is news to some people. My statement that those who call for revolution and mass violence must be punished with all the severity of the law has caused a panic attack in the nonsystemic opposition. I believed this then, I believe this now, and I will always believe it -- my position is immutable.
The seething reaction of the nonsystemic opposition and its sympathizers can be considered mass psychosis. I can help them get over this clinical problem and I promise that we will not be stingy with injections.
My firm statement concerned those who have left Russia and who, from abroad while receiving handouts from the governments of Western countries, sling mud at our country and slander it. This is also clear from the term that I used -- the nonsystemic opposition. Naturally, in this case, we are not talking about the opposition that, within the framework of Russian legislation, operating inside the state system, tries to find a way to resolve vital problems in various spheres -- healthcare, communal services, roads, and so on. We are talking about those who call themselves the nonsystemic opposition and under this name pursue their main aim -- to destroy our country and undermine its constitutional order.
I have never considered these people who impose exclusively Western values upon us to be a part of our society. Taking advantage of the global crisis, the Western lackeys are attempting to throw everything created by Russian President Vladimir Putin and the first president of the Chechen Republic, Akhmat-Khadzhi Kadyrov, into chaos. My republic was bloodied by war. The Chechen people know how many lives the peace that now reigns in the republic cost.
The so-called nonsystemic opposition have become so insolent as to use national media to promote their ideas about destroying the Russian state. Ekho Moskvy, Dozhd, RBK and others happily broadcast their false, hypocritical statements, which are imbued with a profound hatred of Russia.
And some representatives of the Russian authorities are flirting with this pack of jackals, interpreting any reproach or call for them to follow Russia's law as a threat. Let the Prosecutor-General's Office now examine their statements in support of those who are calling for violence.
Who gave a bunch of vile liberals the right to call themselves the Russian intelligentsia?
Those who are calling for dialogue with jackals that dream of destroying our state may not be able to wash off the stench of cowardly dog. As a patriot, a foot soldier of the president of Russia, Vladimir Putin, I will never play around with murderers and traitors to my country. It's unlikely even one sensible and self-respecting person would engage in dialogue with those who consider it amoral to love their Motherland and faithfully serve her.
We have [in Chechnya] a village called Braguny, where there is a very good psychiatric hospital. The seething reaction of the nonsystemic opposition and its sympathizers can be considered mass psychosis. I can help them get over this clinical problem and I promise that we will not be stingy with injections. When they are prescribed one injection, we can give two.
Who gave a bunch of vile liberals the right to call themselves the Russian intelligentsia? They make a claim to the title of the nation's conscience, while gathering around themselves haters of everything Russian and paying attention to the West. The liberals think that their ideas are indisputable and that no other convictions can exist, and if they hear criticism, they attack with threats and insults.
The shadow over the country is cast not by those who protect and preserve its identity, its history, and its sovereignty, but by those who protect the rights of a very small circle of people. Part of the Russian human rights community forgets that its function is to protect the rights of simple Russians, and not a bunch of traitors who have been elevated into a privileged class.
The politics of these warriors for injustice is an antipeople one that represents their own personal interests. When they criticize all and sundry without grounds, using vile words and spraying spittle, they think that we will remain silent. And when they get a tough response with mass support, they run to their defenders howling and tucking in their jackal's tails. If these dogs have their protectors in our country, then the main protector of the Russian people is the president of our country, Vladimir Putin, and I am prepared to carry out his orders, no matter how difficult.
These morally fallen people who have sold their souls to Western devils behave freely not only in the West, but also in the country that they scorn, where they feel themselves to be beyond punishment and untouchable.And, after any attempt to call them to answer to the law, they start to scream about repression.
But in their beloved Western countries, calling for the violation of territorial integrity and for the destruction of the state is a punishable criminal offense. And in Europe there are mass human rights violations. But for the opposition, sympathy for these countries is unshakable. Your lack of love for Russia is mutual.
Acting firmly, consistently, systematically, and within the strict framework of the law, we will not allow a mad rabble that sets itself in opposition to Russia to get in the way. The position of the authorities on this question must be consolidated, all the more so because it serves the interests of the country and its population.
By not sparing the enemy, we will save Russia.
The article adds to a stream of threatening invective unleashed by Ramzan Kadyrov and his allies against liberal Russian opposition politicians, activists, and journalists in recent days.
It is likely to spark new calls for Putin to intervene and to dismiss Kadyrov, who has been widely accused of human-rights abuses and is believed by critics to to have overseen assassinations both in Russia and abroad. Relatives and associates of Boris Nemtsov, an opposition leader shot dead in February 2015 near the Kremlin, want Kadyrov questioned over his killing.
A local lawmaker in Siberia called Kadyrov a "disgrace" to Russia last week, and then apologized following what he said were oblique but clear warnings that he could suffer the same fate as Nemtsov.