A year after the death of Nemtsov, the rhetoric against opponents of Putin is becoming more violent. The little Chechen dictator Kadyrov openly threatened some critics of the Kremlin. It is not the first time that it happens, and last times did not end well.
Kadyrov never changes. The little strongman who likes to be portrayed in mafia-styled pictures while shooting a machine gun or brandishing a golden gun, posted on Instagram a video of two Kremlin critics centered by a sniper viewfinder. They are the former Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov and activist Vladimir Kara-Murza. “Who doesn’t understand, will,” he wrote under the video. The post has been removed by the Instagram administrators because it “contains credible threats or hate speech, content that targets private individuals to degrade or shame them.”
The video is only the latest in a series of recent releases by Kadyrov against the political opposition in Russia. The fact is that these statements come almost a year after the death of Boris Nemtsov sheds a disturbing light on the political climate in Russia. This week ended the investigation into his murder. Five Chechens are suspected, including the “mastermind” of the group Ruslan Mukhudinov, a member of the security forces of the Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov and still at large.
In recent weeks, Kadyrov had attacked the liberal forces of the country, writing on the newspaper Izvestia of “haters of Russia, traitors to the Motherland and enemies of the people“. In his long article he has repeated several times the concept, also blaming the press not aligned with the Kremlin. “The opposition have become so insolent as to use national media to promote their ideas about destroying the Russian state. Ekho Moskvy, Dozhd, RBK and others happily broadcast their false, hypocritical statements, which are imbued with a profound hatred of Russia.”
The tone is high even for an excessive figure like Kadyrov. And for many it is the sign of a wave of violence – not necessarily just verbal – against the opposition.
Some days before, the president of the Chechen parliament Magomed Daudov – which in the past has spoken of the opposition as the “fifth column” – had published a photo on Instagram of Kadyrov inciting his dog Tarzan. “Our friend doesn’t like foreign dogs, mainly because they remind him of wanton bitches,” Daudov wrote with a play on words that can also mean “whores”. And then he gave the names: Igor Kalypin, head of the Committee to Prevent Torture, opposition activist Ilya Yashin, Aleksei Veneditkov, editor in chief of radio station Ekho Moskvy and Lev Ponomaryov human rights activist and member of Solidarnost.
What makes the statement really scaring is that both Venediktov and Ponomaryov were depicted along with Nemtsov in those big billboards, hung in the center of Moscow shortly before his death, entitled “Fifth Column” and supposedly backed by the Kremlin.
The other names – and faces on posters – usually on the list of enemies of the state are Aleksey Navalny, widely regarded as the leader of the opposition, and Mikhail Khororkovsky. Now Kadyrov with his video adds Kazyanov and Kara-Murza. The latter, who was urgently hospitalized about a year ago for a mysterious illness, is convinced that someone have tried to kill him with poison.
In his manifesto published by Izvestia, Kadyrov confirms to be ready for anything. “As a patriot, a foot soldier of the president of Russia, Vladimir Putin, I will never play around with murderers and traitors to my country. I am prepared to carry out his orders, no matter how difficult,” he wrote.
To realize how dangerous his words are, just consider that a few days later thousands took to the streets in Grozny in his support, while in Moscow a demonstration organized by the party Yabloka against him was banned by the city authorities. Meanwhile, during a meeting in Stavropol on January 25, Putin publicly praised Kadyrov. “Thanks to Chechnya and the current leader. He is working effectively.”