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Published in Stream:
Russia Update: March 2, 2016
Press by
The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interfax Interview with Kadyrov: 'Putin Will Determine My Future'; 'Government Did Not Need Nemtsov's Death'
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Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov put himself at the top of the headlines again today by saying "Putin will determine my future" and denying that he or his father Akhmat had any hostility to slain opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, saying Akhmat had even shook Nemtsov's hand when Nemtsov came to Grozny in the 2000s in an effort to stop the war.

In a lengthy interview with Interfax, Kadyrov spoke about his future plans, as less than a month remains of his term in office. He discarded any notion of democratic elections by the people of Chechnya and said the prerogative to chose the candidates belonged to the Kremlin. 

"Any decision on this question is made by Vladimir Putin, President of Russia. And I am a foot soldier who will say 'Yes, sir!'"

Kadyrov said that due to Chechens now serving in the federal Russian army, and young people coming to vacation spots in Chechnya from other republics, "the full integration of Chechen society in the family of nations of Russia" had taken place. But "not everyone likes this" and he had enemies.

Asked under what conditions he would remain, he said that if Putin ordered him to stay, he would. If he didn't, Kadyrov said he would become more involved in his family and raising and educating his 9 children; a father should spend at least an hour a day with each son, he said.

As for the five Chechen men held as suspects in the murder, two of whom were officers in the Chechen Interior Ministry's Internal Troops sometimes described as Kadyrov's "personal army," Kadyrov said "how could such a group commit the murder of Nemtsov"?  He said they "didn't represent anything" and "couldn't have "united to organize the conspiracy and murder." He denied that Nemtsov's death "was needed by the government at any level."

Kadyrov also claimed that he had not defended the accused as such but only "expressed his own opinion" when he called Zaur Dadayev, said to be the trigger man, "a true patriot." He said when asked a direct question about Dadayev by a reporter he didn't lie, but said Dadayev had "fearlessly fought terrorists." A group  of terrorists who had killed people, bombed cars and destroyed homes were "neutralized" through Dadayev's efforts, said Kadyrov.

Moscow City Court has extended the pre-trial arrest period of the five suspects until May 28. There are 66 volumes of case files which have been shown to Nemtsov's family, and will now be given to the suspects to read. During a hearing March 1, the suspects again denied their guilt and said they gave confessions under torture. The judge reprimanded their lawyers; one for looking at a tablet and laughing during the session and another for calling the Russian justice system "an organized crime group."

Interfax asked Kadyrov if he feared any criminal prosecution for his threats against the opposition, including posting a surveillance tape of Parnas opposition party chair Mikhail Kasyanov and journalist Vladimir Kara-Murza, Jr. shown through a sniper's scope.

Kadyrov ducked the question and took the occasion to once again blame the opposition for not behaving as he believed an opposition should, and castigating them because while some of them were in power (Kasyanov was Putin's prime minister), they ostensibly didn't have complaints then. Kadyrov said (translation by The Interpreter):

"If we speak about Mikhail Kasyanov, then there has never been a more gray personality in politics. All of his work consists of systematic trips around the capitals of Western countries. What purposes do these people pursue? Very simple. I don't doubt one bit that that they have absolutely no serious goals. The plans of actions are most likely written up at the US State Department, and the details are received from various types of specific ministries in the West, possibly even intelligence agencies. The task is set to them to destabilize the situation in the country from inside, to raise the population, to provoke street actions, try to force the use of force, and distract all the attention of the country's leadership from foreign policy tasks, and force the Kremlin to refrain from taking part in solving world problems...

The danger is that to this day, no appropriate measures of counteraction have been taken. Kasyanov and others systematically meet with representatives of the West, obtain instructions from them, and possibly a solid financial support. They are not embarrassed by this. They openly advise our non-friends (read: enemies), where the strike should be made in order to disrupt the economy, to provoke political instability. If Kasyanov was a patriot, at this difficult time for Russia, he would tell the president and the prime minister that he would like to put his shoulder to the wheel, he is ready to be a consultant, a minister's aide, an advisor, that he does not need positions and power.

Of course such people pose a threat for the economic, political and social security of Russia. I think even a military threat as well. Kasyanov and some other former officials most likely are the bearers of state secrets, and there is no certainty that they will not share them.

We need to call a spade a spade. War has virtually been declared against us. Economic, diplomatic, information and ideological. The advance guard, the paratroopers are already in Russia. These Kasyanovs and others. I did not mount a photo of Kasyanov with the scope, and did not place it in the Internet. The photo or video there, I don't recall, was sent to me by someone who said it was from the Internet. I thought it was funny that a former prime minister and 'leader of the opposition' abroad was holding some secret meetings, hiding from Russian journalists. This is funny. And once again, 'who doesn't understand, will' means, for those who still haven't figured out what Kasyanov represents, they will see and understand when they learn that he went for his latest hand-out. Kasyanov was only waiting for this. 'Oh, they're threatening me,' and so on...Who is threatening him, why, for what reason, whom does he personally bother? Nobody. A pathetic person, who has lost himself, running around the offices of petty Western bureaucrat. That is humiliating for the former prime minister of a great country."

As for the cake attacks, Kadyrov urged Kasyanov to man up and take his licks, as politicians should expect such things.

Interfax then asked Kadyrov how many fighters from Chechnya were in the "ranks of the implacable opposition," as the reporter put it. What was Chechnya doing to "neutralzie" these fighters? Was a fear that they would return home and destabilize the situation?

Kadyrov said 250-300 natives of Chechnya, including both Russian citizens and residents of Europe, were in Syria and Iraq. He said volunteers "who have no relationship to military service of the Interior Ministry" were tracking such fighters "at the risk of their own lives" and they "had personal scores to settle, and these were settled, even if the bandits tried to hide." He said no fighter would be allowed to get back into Russia and said he doubted they would be able to.

"First, they don't live long there, and second they understand perfectly well that penetrating Russia will be very difficult for them," he explained.

On February 29, presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Kremlin would not comment on Kadyrov until the end of his term.

-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick