December 15th 2008 · Prague Watchdog / Dzhambulat Are · PRINTER FRIENDLY FORMAT · E-MAIL THIS · ALSO AVAILABLE IN: RUSSIAN 

The world’s new television star (weekly review)

By Dzhambulat Are

GROZNY, Chechnya – It will soon be possible to view news broadcasts from Chechnya not only in the republic itself, but also far beyond its borders. To this end, the Moscow-backed Chechen government has launched a special satellite channel: the Grozny Broadcasting Company has been entrusted with the task of informing foreigners about life in the formerly rebellious Russian province.

Ramzan Kadyrov has long been preparing to put this project into action, as he believes that his efforts to build a peaceful Chechnya as part of Russia have not yet reached the tens of thousands of his compatriots who fled the war back in the active phase of the “counter-terrorist operation”. And that this is the only reason why most of them are not hurrying to return home.

Now this gap will be eliminated completely. According to an official announcement, “the Grozny satellite news channel will be accessible not only to Chechens living in Western Europe and the countries of Scandinavia but also in northern Africa, the Middle East, Asia and, of course, Russia.” Kadyrov’s press service does, however, make it clear that people who live in multi-storey apartment blocks in the north-west of Paris may be slightly out of luck. In those blocks “viewers may experience difficulties in reception because of the low angle (15°) of the satellite above the horizon.”

But what is the Grozny channel going to inform the foreign viewer about? On the “ChechnyaToday” website it is already possible to watch hourly news bulletins in Russian and Chechen. Let us take one of the most recent ones. It begins with reports on Ramzan Kadyrov’s pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina, and continues with a story about Kadyrov’s meeting with the King of Saudi Arabia and with Saudi princes. The tension grows. Next, Kadyrov is seen chatting with the head of the Palestinian Autonomy. Gripping coverage of Kadyrov visiting Vladimir Putin and conveying the Saudi King’s greetings. Towards the end of the bulletin the tone undergoes a radical change, as social problems are left behind and the focus shifts to the hero’s private life. Kadyrov is back home now, describing how he received greetings to Putin from kings and presidents, and conveyed them to the Russian leader.

This is the routine stuff of Chechen television. Viewers see reports on the life and work of Ramzan Kadyrov on a daily basis. The reports can be classified by subject: the president working at home; Ramzan Kadyrov telling off members of his ministerial cabinet; Ramzan Kadyrov inspecting construction sites; Ramzan in the Akhmad-Khadzhi Kadyrov Mosque; Ramzan with his family. Ramzan Kadyrov performing the zikr (running with the other dancers and singing religious songs). Ramzan Kadyrov organizing dog fights in his native village of Khosi-yurt. Ramzan Kadyrov tearing about in his Hummer with Ksenya Sobchak (or any other visiting Russian star who may end up in the presidential jeep). And so on and so forth. This is exactly the kind of programming which the Grozny satellite channel plans to offer its demanding audience abroad. It will be broadcast around the clock, starting on December 20.

For those foreign citizens who are not yet wholly at ease in Russian and Chechen, the channel plans to broadcast the news about Kadyrov with English subtitles. The remote control has buttons which allow one to switch channels. In them one must place one’s hope.

The photograph is borrowed from the website

Previous weekly reviews can be read at

(Translation by DM)




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