Ramzan Kadyrov, the man who sees himself as a freedom fighter with bizarre views came to power in 2005, a year after his father’s assassination. He did the unexpected and went to Kreml to meet Vladimir Putin resulting in a “friendship with benefits”.
Everywhere you turn; his ginger bearded smiling pictures on billboards stares down on the streets of Chechnya while he lives in a fortress like mansion in the village of Tsenteroi with his family and pets; a lion and a rare tiger. It is also claimed that this is the place where he tortures enemies of the state.
As a Sufi Muslim, Kadyrov supports polygamy and strict Islamic dress code for women. He also quoted; “I have the right to criticize my wife. She doesn’t [have the right to criticize me]. With us [in Chechen society], a wife is a housewife. A woman should know her place. A woman should give her love to us [men]… She would be [man’s] property. And the man is the owner. Here, if a woman does not behave properly, her husband, father, and brother are responsible. According to our tradition, if a woman fools around, her family members kill her… That’s how it happens, a brother kills his sister or a husband kills his wife… As a president, I cannot allow for them to kill. So, let women not wear shorts…”
Kadyrov has also stated that he wants to implement Islamic Sharia law in the Republic at the same time as he abides Russian law. This is not a surprise as he has the support of former Russian President Vladimir Putin and was also awarded the Hero of Russia medal, the highest honorary of Russia.
As President of Chechnya, Kadyrov has brought some peace and stability and launched several renovations to the capital Grozny that used to be a war torn city. He completed the reconstruction of two large Grozny avenues, repaired local roads; build new mosques, sport centers and hospitals but there is a darker side to this charismatic man. Kadyrov has been the center of attention of many international human rights organizations for corruption and severe human rights violations. It is most likely the meetings and support of Putin that gives Kadyrov the encouragement to threaten and physically eliminate his enemies.
On the meeting with journalist Andrew Osborn, Osborn wrote; “A squat, powerfully built man, he swaggers rather than walks, with his powerful boxer’s shoulders almost bursting out of his pinstriped suit. His press attache… keeps an eye on his charge as if he were guarding a stick of dynamite primed to explode if faced with one hostile question.”
When the journalist brought up the subject of Anna Politkovskaya during the interview, Kadyrov answered; “Why would I have killed her?” he asked. “She used to write bad things about my father, and if I had wanted to, I could have done something bad to her at that time. Why now?”
Still many strongly believes that Ramzan Kadyrov, with the permission of Kreml, arranged the elimination of Politkovskaya as she was one of the strongest critics of Kadyrov calling for his removal and that he should be put for trial for his crimes. “He is an extremely cruel man,” Politkovskaya told Ekho Moskvy radio in an interview broadcast shortly before her death. “I have met several people who told me that Ramzan Kadyrov personally tortured them in his home in the village of Tsentoroi. “
Another report was written by the now late Natalia Estimerova in August 2008. She wrote; “Political observer’s claim Kadyrov is ruling over Chechnya independently of Russia. Is it really so? Tens of thousands of Chechens pining away in Russian prisons would not agree.
Neither would the hundreds of thousands of war victims, or the relatives of the killed and missing. And the outflow of Chechen refugees to European countries is not subsiding. On the contrary: more and more people are trying to leave. A dictatorship is being cemented in a small European territory.” The 50 year old human rights investigator Estimerova was later discovered shot dead after being abducted from her home in Grozny in July 2009.
Recently, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov held a multimillion dollar 35th birthday party flying in international musicians and Hollywood actors for a concert. He consequently denied that the Kremlin bankrolled festivity was in honour for him but rather to mark the 193rd anniversary of the founding of Grozny. ”There will be no ceremonies around my birthday. ”I categorically forbid any events to be devoted to it wherever they are,” he said.
Jean-Claude Van Damme, Hilary Swank and the British violinist Vanessa-Mae was charging was flewn in and Vanessa Mae alone charged $500,000 to perform in the concert. When asked where the unemployment-ravaged region got all its money for the celebration, Kadyrov answered. ”Allah gives it to us,” followed by: ”I don’t know, it comes from somewhere.”
The appearance of western celebrities was a huge blow in the face for human rights activists who accuse Kadyrov of torture and murder. The birthday boy spent the day opening a riverside complex including three skyscrapers as well as a hotel and conference centre. Covered by tight security, a 600-bed hospital was also opened together with a bridge and a restored avenue officially named after Mr Kadyrov’s late father, Akhmad.
Kadyrov who has become a warlord, who once fought against the Russians but then switched sides just like his father, has become more and more like his idol Vladimir Putin, sensitive to criticism and has developed a Soviet-style reign that would make Stalin proud.
Kadyrov also regularly invites Russian pop artists and gives them exclusive presents and no one has the courage to ask where the money comes from. No one dares to object to anything Kadyrov says or does, just as no one dared to object to Stalin’s words. To implement peace in the Republic has a price, and the price people have to pay is to disappear only for some days and return beaten, terrified and silent.
“I’ve already killed who I should have killed. And I will kill all of those standing behind them, as long as I myself am not killed or jailed. I will be killing as long as I live.” Ramzan Kadyrov.