October 20th 2008 · Prague Watchdog / Dzhambulat Are · PRINTER FRIENDLY FORMAT · E-MAIL THIS · ALSO AVAILABLE IN: RUSSIAN 

A President’s tears (weekly review)

By Dzhambulat Are

GROZNY, Chechnya – At the opening of Grozny’s new mosque President Ramzan Kadyrov wept and did not try to hide his tears. He could afford to do this, since among his compatriots and the many guests attending the celebratory event there was hardly one person who would have reproached him for weakness.

Kadyrov was not crying because he felt bitter. On the contrary, his tears were tears of happiness. Of course, he still has much to achieve, but in the space of only a few years he has managed to cross an enormous distance, of a kind that would take another man a whole lifetime to cover. The foes have been driven from the Chechen territory, either destroyed or in a state of total submission, the people are a-tremble with love and terror, the mighty of this world are giving him their sincere good wishes, and the treasury is bursting with cash.

For example, on the day before the opening the republic had a visit from Russia's Premier Vladimir Putin – ostensibly to see how the elimination of the consequences of the recent earthquake was going, though of course that was purely a formal pretext. In such cases, the normal procedure is for high-profile ministers to be sent to the scene, while the prime minister remains in Moscow to make strategic decisions. But now the entire North Caucasus, the entire Chechen people understood that Putin was paying a personal call to his friend, who two weeks ago decided to rename Grozny’s principal thoroughfare after him.

And on the drive to Gudermes the Russian prime minister himself took the wheel of the armoured jeep. Ramzan could reflect that he was one of the few people – at least among the leaders of the federation’s regions – who could boast that he had been driven by Putin.

By his mood, Vladimir Vladimirovich wished to convey that he would cast no doubt on the Chechen experts’ statistics relating to the destruction and ruin the earthquake had caused. 10,000 buildings were damaged and now required additional budget funds? Putin inspected the tents in the courtyard of the Gudermes hospital where the injured were taken during the earthquake (today the hospital is an empty shell – because of the threat of fresh tremors all the staff and patients were evacuated). He walked through the ruins, expressing sympathy. It seems there will be no problems with the allocation of relief funding, though sceptics have wondered how it can be that, if the scale of destruction is as considerable as the Chechen authorities are trying to make out, only twelve or thirteen people were killed.

Ramzan Kadyrov does not always have sufficient enthusiastic words to express his attitude to this great man and politician. But it seemed that now, at the opening of the mosque, as he called Putin "the hope of the entire Islamic world”, he managed to find a very good description. No one has yet given Vladimir Vladimirovich that particular appellation.

Ramzan’s tears were also tears of gratitude. Now, right in the heart of the city he has rebuilt, stands "the largest mosque in Europe", which can accommodate 10,000 people. To him, a simple country lad, whom even five or six years ago no one took seriously, guests – some two and a half thousand of them – have streamed from more than thirty countries around the world. And in the eyes of those guests he is not just a minor federal official, but a man who has made a tremendous contribution to the strengthening of Islam. Ramzan’s chest is adorned with the Order of Merit for Services to the Ummah, first degree. He has just been awarded it.

A day earlier, Putin was struck by the scale of the mosque’s construction and in the helicopter asked whether the building was really bigger than the Kazan mosque. Yes, it is, Vladimir Vladimirovich, you may be sure of that!

Ramzan can afford to weep. All his critics and enemies (and nowadays there is no shortage of those), have once again been put to shame. How many times they have predicted his death, his ignominious resignation and disgrace. But he knows that as long as Putin drops in on him for friendly visits like this, nothing can go wrong. On the whole, Kadyrov feels confident that he and the Russian prime minister will continue to reign forever. Amen.

The photograph is borrowed from the website of the ELSO holding.

Previous weekly reviews can be read at

(Translation by DM)




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