Putin Insists on ‘Russian Law’ in Chechnya While Supporting Muslim President

Russian President Vladimir Putin officially endorsed Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov to continue leading the country, but reminded him to respect Russian laws.

“It’s essential to coordinate more closely when it comes to working with the federal organs of power, especially on security matters,” stated Putin. “You must do everything to ensure that Russian law in all spheres of life is observed. I want to underline in all spheres of life.”

Kadyrov’s term ends at the end of March, but Putin “signed a decree appointing him acting leader until regional elections in September.” Putin also said he hopes the Chechen people “would recognize all Kadyrov had achieved.”

“I believe that the people of Chechnya, the Chechen people, will be able to properly evaluate during the election campaign what you have done for the republic,” he continued.

Kadyrov became president of Chechnya in 2007 at the age of 31.

“For me it was even unexpected that you, a person who had such different aims in life, suddenly turned into a good manager,” Putin told Kadyrov.

Kadyrov’s father Akhmad led a revolt against Russia during the First Chechen War, but switched sides in the Second Chechen War. An explosion at a soccer stadium in May 2004 instantly killed Akhmad. His son took over the reigns in the government.

“This is what Akhmat-Khadzhi dreamt of,” said Putin. “This is what he gave his life for.”

Kadyrov insists he remains a loyal ally to Putin, though some have claimed “he has carved out a state within a state enforcing a strict Islamic ‘code of virtue’ for women and using methods against insurgents human rights groups see as rights abuses.”

Last year, the murder of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov brought attention to troubles in the Putin and Kadyrov relationship. Nemtsov recently noticed a “fray” between Putin and Kadyrov. Putin has continued publicly supporting Kadyrov, despite the numerous human rights violations in Chechnya. Giving Kadyrov the presidency allowed the 38-year-old to “create the Islamic republic that Chechen separatists had dreamed of – albeit one entirely reliant on Moscow for financial support and where Shariah law is selective, not absolute.” But critics believe Kadyrov is now “seeking power and relevance far beyond his base” within Chechnya. Nemtsov was one of the more outspoken critics of this relationship.

“I cannot understand what Putin expects when arming 20,000 Kadyrovtsy gathered today in the stadium in Grozny,” Nemtsov wrote on Facebook, adding:

What will happen next? The country is entering a crisis. There is not enough money for anything, including the support of regions. And the unspoken contract between Putin and Kadyrov — money in exchange for loyalty — ends. And where will 20,000 Kadyrovtsy go? What will they demand? How will they behave? When will they come to Moscow?

While fingers pointed at Putin for the murder, four people told Bloomberg he was not happy about the murder:

Putin was furious when he learned of the killing, which occurred on a bridge near the Kremlin, four people familiar with the matter said. Putin, who took charge of the probe and then disappeared from public view for a week, became even more alarmed when investigators said they’d traced a hit list of other critics to Chechnya, another person said. Putin has given Kadyrov free rein to kill jihadis and create what even former Chechen officials such as Beslan Gantamirov have called a brutal police state.

“Putin has become a hostage to his own policy of radicalizing supporters so they can spring to action whenever he needs them,” said Alexander Baunov, a senior associate at the Carnegie Moscow Center. “His authoritarianism is sliding into decentralized terror. His backers think he’s much more radical than he really is and are acting without clear orders.”

Experts believe Russia’s FSB, the former KGB, want Kadyrov out.

“The F.S.B. hate Ramzan because they are unable to control him,” claimed Alexey Malashenko, a Caucasus expert. “He does whatever he wants, including in Moscow. Nobody can arrest members of his team if there is no agreement with Putin.”


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