Monday, August 10, 2009

Window on Eurasia: Kadyrov Interview ‘Discredits Kremlin,’ Moscow Commentator Says

Paul Goble

Vienna, August 10 – In his Saturday interview with Radio Liberty, Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov not only violated the principles of good manners and political correctness but also said things about his ability to act without regard to Moscow’s rules of the game that “discredit the Kremlin,” according to one Russian commentator.
In today’s “Moskovsky komsomolets,” Yuliya Kalinina argues that this interview shows that despite the efforts of “the best image makers” sent from Moscow to “teach him manners” and guide him in his public activities, Kadyrov now feels himself entirely capable of “saying that which must not be said” (
First of all, she says, Kadyrov permitted himself to be crudely dismissive of the late Natalya Estemirova, simultaneously violating Chechen and all-human moral norms against speaking ill of the dead and especially those who have died violently and raising yet more questions about his own involvement in the journalist’s murder.
On the one hand, Zoya Svetova in today’s “Yezhednevny zhurnal” pointed out that when Anna Politkovskaya was killed in November 2006, Kadyrov very publically declared that “she is dead and about the dead it is not good to speak badly.” But now, Svetova says, for Kadyrov, “this taboo has already been lifted” (
And on the other, human rights activists who have accused Kadyrov of being responsible either directly or indirectly for the killing of Estemirova last month said that the Chechen president’s latest comments provided evidence if more is needed that their suspicions about him are correct.
Indeed, one of them told in terms that in her view, Kadyrov’s statement to Radio Liberty represents “an open acknowledgement to all of the well known fact that his people killed Natasha. How he must hate [the murdered journalist] to say such dirty things about her!” (
Second, Kalinina continues, Kadyrov not only violated morality and laws about defamation but he violated Russian “rules of political correctness” by openly acknowledging that he routinely violates Russian laws about how spending appropriated funds, something other officials there do but seldom proclaim.
Given the Chechen leader’s statement, the “Moskovsky komsomolets” commentator asks, “how should the Accounting Chamber react? To say that no, the budget in Chechnya is in fact being spent correctly? This would be a theater of the absurd. But if the budget is being spent incorrectly, then it is necessary to punish Kadyrov – that is the law.”
In addition, Kadyrov openly acknowledges that the law enforcement organs in his republic violate the laws. “Yes,” he told the Radio Liberty journalists, “we are not angels,” asserting that in a way that suggests he considers such violations completely normal: “And where are they not violated?”
That is of course true, Kalinina continues, “but the head of a region cannot act as if illegality were a given. He is obliged to play the same game that the federal powers that be play … Otherwise he simply discredits the Kremlin,” which either must enforce the rules or by not enforcing them effectively acknowledge that it cannot.
But third -- Kalinina clearly sees this as the most unsettling aspect of the interview – Kadyrov not only said some true but unspoken things about the top of the Russian political pyramid but also reiterated his support for Vladimir Putin, this time in a way that denigrates the office and person of President Dmitry Medvedev.
Kadyrov directly said that Medvedev whom he described as “a strong, wise and correct politician, had been chosen by “the command” which had the current Kremlin incumbent been otherwise, the latter “would not have supported.” That is “in essence correct,” Kalinina continues, “but according to the Constitution, the people not the command choose” him.
The Chechen leader’s comments about Putin, in contrast, were anything but restrained. “Putin is my idol,” Kadyrov said. “I love him; I respect him; I would give my life for him! I owe my live to this man. … I want him to be president of the Russian Federation for life” (
And finally, and saying something no one is supposed to acknowledge, Kadyrov stressed that “with us, the force structures are not subordinate to the president.” Moreover, “the head of the procuracy for the Chechen republic, the entire narcotics control and all the various structures of the Chechen republic are not subordinate to the president.”
All this raises some very serious questions, Kalinina says: Does Kadyrov “not understand what he is saying? Or does he understand everything perfectly well but spits on all rules established by people, politicians, and the powers that be because in his case everything is permitted?”
At the very least, the Chechen leader’s words on this occasion do not speak well for “the Kremlin’s image makers. Yet another interview, they will have to acknowledge that they are powerless” to make Kadyrov behavior and decide to “forbid him from giving” them. Their bosses, of course, may feel compelled to take even more dramatic action.

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