Skip to comments."Little Stalin" Kadyrov runs Russia's Chechnya
Posted on 12/19/2005 6:11:02 PM PST by Tailgunner Joe
MOSCOW, Dec 20 (Reuters) - He is 29 years old, bearded, exhorts his troops to fight in the name of Allah and speaks Russian with a heavy Chechen accent. Not long ago, that would have perfectly described one of Moscow's most bitter foes.
But now, while his former comrades-in-arms dodge troops in the Chechen mountains, Ramzan Kadyrov is a hero of Russia, a frequent guest of President Vladimir Putin and regional leader of the pro-Kremlin political party.
Kadyrov is officially deputy prime minister of Chechnya but observers say the Kremlin has made him de facto leader -- something, they add, it may come to regret.
Kadyrov's every move dominates local television reports. When his first son was born last month, the region enjoyed a public holiday -- marked by all-night salutes of machinegun fire that left civilians cowering in their basements.
His portraits stare down from the pocked walls of apartment blocks in Grozny, the shattered capital of Chechnya, interspersed with posters of Putin pinning Russia's highest decoration to his chest.
"I am not a prima donna, but when people respect you, that's always nice," Kadyrov told Reuters. "If I were to say I did not like to feel myself a popular man, then I'd be lying."
Kadyrov's power is based on his control of thousands of irregular troops -- like him, former rebels, and nicknamed the 'kadyrovtsy'. Rights activists accuse him of using kidnapping, murder and torture to cement his rule.
Kadyrov denies the allegations, and many Chechens do not care. They say only extreme measures can end a war that has raged for 11 years and claimed tens of thousands of lives -- including Kadyrov's father, who led the region until his assassination last year.
"In such a situation, you have to be tough. Look at all these soldiers. We need a little Stalin, he needs to be even tougher," said Said, 33, a Chechen in Grozny.
Russia sent troops to crush an independence drive in the Muslim southern region in 1994, but had to pull out two years later after a series of bloody defeats. Putin sent the army back in 1999 and has pledged repeatedly to wipe out "terrorist" groups who seek to break from Russia.
Few observers doubt that when Kadyrov turns 30 -- the minimum age to become Chechen president -- he will follow his father into the region's top job.
"The Kremlin has artificially strengthened his position because it is concentrating on one clan so as to maintain Russian control (over Chechnya)," said Alexei Mukhin, director of the Centre of Political Information think tank.
"Practically he already has his own state, it is a separate state that is loyal to the Kremlin. The danger is if he moves to set up a state not loyal to the Kremlin."
Last week, Chechen members of the pro-Kremlin United Russia party that dominates the region's recently elected parliament voted to make Kadyrov its regional head despite observers questioning his democratic credentials.
"Having these kind of people around -- Ramzan, I mean -- with these kinds of attitudes, it is disturbing and works against the good intentions that the majority of the country has," said Morten Messerschmidt, a Danish member of parliament who visited Chechnya to observe last month's elections.
According to Russian human rights groups, Kadyrov's rule is based on fear. They accuse his troops of mass human rights abuses in his quest to crush opposition.
"Chechenisation - i.e. handing over of responsibility, including for the conduct of "anti-terrorist" operations, from the federal to the local authorities - of the conflict has not brought peace to the Chechen Republic," rights groups, including Memorial, said in a joint report published last month.
"It has resulted in the brutalisation of the warring sides and pervasive fear and insecurity for civilians ... The emergence of pro-Kremlin armed groups, only partly controlled by the government, creates conditions for new spirals of violence."
"KING OF THE BEASTS"
Chechnya's rebels call Kadyrov a stooge of Moscow, and say the power of his forces would collapse if Russia pulled out its 100,000 troops.
"They are not a threat for the future of Chechnya. If you imagine Russian forces leaving Chechnya, then these bands will have no chance," said rebel envoy Akhmed Zakayev recently.
Some Russian soldiers in Chechnya think Kadyrov's efforts to secure control are simply serving his own interests.
"If you have one of the kadyrovtsy, a rebel and a Russian together, then they'll kill the Russian. They all have relatives in the hills," said one soldier, before breaking into a joke about Kadyrov meeting a lion on the streets of Grozny and disputing its title to be "king of the beasts".
"I'm the king of the beasts, you're just some animal," the punchline has Kadyrov telling the lion.
Kadyrov himself says his critics are lying, and accuses some of siding with separatists. He swears to defeat the rebels, particularly leader Shamil Basayev.
"I know that one duty stands before me, that is to find and destroy Basayev. There are times, when I find myself on his tracks, but he escapes from under my very feet," he said.
Basayev masterminded the conflict's bloodiest attacks -- including the hostage siege in Beslan last year when 330 people, half of them children, died -- but Kadyrov said the rebels had now been neutralised.
"There is no threat to the republic, the rebels have no strength. As for bandits and terrorists, we basically don't even have them. And Chechens are in an absolute minority in the current ranks of the rebels," he said.
This particular 29 year old is being played...like a cheap violin.
So Russia does not have a right to defend and maintain control of it's territory? You state this 29 year old is being played like a violin, but do you prefer the leadership and tactics of Basayev, who murders school children? It sounds as if you have bought into the Islamic soundbites.
Who is Russia?
Why is Putin's neo-Soviet Union arming Ahmadinejad's viciously anti-American, anti-Jewish & Anti-Western, Islamic dictatorship?
Has the Kremlin finally gained access to warm water ports along Iran's southern border, those oil rich sea lanes of the Persian Gulf?
Russia does not have a right to commit atrocities against civilians and carpet bomb its own cities. I was in Grozny last month and cannot imagine that a aimilar case in recent times when a government has so ruthlessly destroyed one of its own cities.
That the rebels are Muslim is not in doubt, nor is there any question that they are now in fealty to Islamic extremists from elsewhere and that they have committed unspeakably barbaric acts -- but let us not forget Russia's own war crimes there. The convenient Chechen war was entirely responsible for bringing Putin to power (as prime minister, he had a popularity rating of just two percent before he launched his little adventure).
Likewise there is no doubt at all that Kadyrov is a little thug and that Putin continues to play with fire. The Russian president is very adept at political pragmatism, at crushing democracy, at assuming no responsibility whatsoever for his more odious policies (he let's his rubber stamp Duma do that), and at pursuing a morally defunt foreign policy. But, like all dictators, he lacks long-term vision and that is what will bite him in the end.
I guess you would have preferred that Russian boys die in nice little body waves against dug in Islamics, right? Funny, seems we don't do that in Iraq. If they're dug in, we level the buildings, same as the Israelies and anyone else who worries about their own troops.
The fact that during the seige, there were several hours a day that cease fires occured and buses were waiting for civilians and that 250,000 Chechens moved NORTH to the Federals not south our any other direction escaped you? How about the fact that 200,000 Chechens live in Moscow?
Likewise there is no doubt at all that Kadyrov is a little thug and that Putin continues to play with fire. The Russian president is very adept at political pragmatism, at crushing democracy, at assuming no responsibility whatsoever for his more odious policies (he let's his rubber stamp Duma do that), and at pursuing a morally defunt foreign policy.
While I highly disagree with several issues of his foreign policy, particularly most anything with Iran and most with Syria, we are far from angels. Or might I remind you that we are forcing Israel to walk down the Road Map to National Suicide, arming Islamic Pakistan (which continues to build nukes for Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and continues to attack India), supporting the KLA, giving Saudi Arabia a pass on support of terrorism abroad and its own nuclear policies (Saudi Arabia told the UN to shove it up its arse last year when they wanted to inspect the Saudi nuke labs). We continue to keep open borders with Mexico and give a pass to their mass corruption and drug trafficing. As we also continue and have actually accelerated the giving away of America to China and the mass construction of their industry and thus their military. We have even cut our support for Taiwan on several occassions not to piss of China.
Putin is no angel and far from it, but holding him to a standard higher then our own actions is hypocritical.
"Rebel envoy" residing in London. Do the British recognize the present borders of Russia?
What did you do there?