December 1st 2008 · Prague Watchdog / Dzhambulat Are · PRINTER FRIENDLY FORMAT · E-MAIL THIS · ALSO AVAILABLE IN: RUSSIAN 

Commissioner for Kadyrov's rights (weekly review)

Commissioner for Kadyrov's rights (weekly review)

By Dzhambulat Are

GROZNY, Chechnya – The system of government created by Ramzan Kadyrov is often described as a “sultanate”, or oriental dictatorship. In this there is a fair amount of exaggeration, as by no means all is going smoothly for the Chechen leader on his way to absolute power. In any case, Kadyrov's aspiration to have Chechens in all the republic’s key posts – and that means people who are under his control – is not always understood in the federal departments and ministries.

Thus, on November 25 a certain Mikhail Savchin was appointed to the post of Chechnya’s public prosecutor. Mr Savichin’s biography contains no pages of brilliancy, so we shall not focus our attention here on the personality of the new appointee. Indeed, it is an element of little importance in the context of the problem under consideration.

The point is that back in May last year, Chechnya’s human rights commissioner Nurdi Nukhazhiyev made a speech that was sharply critical of the former Chechen prosecutor, Valery Kuznetsov. Traditionally not shy of issuing the most devastating criticisms, Nukhazhiyev said that the prosecutor’s office should be taken to court for “criminal negligence" and suggested that the republican authorities should raise with the Procurator General the question of the prosecutor’s sacking and replacement.

Even at the time, people who were in the know put a finger on the cause and nature of the conflict. It is no secret in the republic that the obligations with which the Chechen ombudsman is charged include the rather complex one of tackling those law enforcement bodies which are subordinate to the federal authorities, and whose activities Ramzan Kadyrov for one reason or another finds uncongenial.

We can safely say that the attempts to hound out Valery Kuznetsov were made by Kadyrov himself, who for this purpose employed a suitable instrument that met the various requirements of the case. However, nothing came of this venture, and after a year the conflict formally expired. Nukhazhiyev and the prosecutor signed some sort of peace agreement with each other. This time Kadyrov retreated, but continued to keep the prosecutor's office under close observation.

In early November it was reported that Valery Kuznetsov was being transferred from Chechnya to the Rostov district, and in mid-November Nurdi Nukhazhiyev said that the new prosecutor must be a Chechen.

There is nothing strange about this. By obtaining the prosecutor’s chair for “his man”, the head of Chechnya would, on the one hand, have a chance to expand his arsenal of repressive tools, and on the other find it easy to cover up any infringements of the law that might fall within the prosecutor’s remit, in the territory under his command.

However, Moscow did not agree with the Nukhazhiyev/Kadyrov proposal, evidently considering that the federal centre must retain at least minimal control over the activities of the Chechen autocrat. And so to replace Valery Kuznetsov they sent Mikhail Savchin. The sequel of this story will no doubt follow in due course, for the Chechen President does not usually give up an operation he has planned for the seizure of power.

As for Nurdi Nukhazhiyev, this week he once again distinguished himself by more or less acquitting the murderers of the six young women who were recently found dead in Chechnya. He suggested that the women had brought about their own deaths, as they had led “an amoral way of life” and, because they had forgotten the Muslim moral code, might have become victims of summary justice on the part of their relatives.

However, his statement sparked a media outcry. Moskovsky Komsomolets correspondent Vadim Rechkalov wrote that because Nukhazhiyev’s statements and pronouncements usually have the backing of the president of the republic, this can only mean one thing: the Chechen government sanctions the extra-judicial execution of women of easy virtue.

What happened then was that Ramzan Kadyrov either realized, or was helped to realize, that his Commissioner for Human Rights had uttered some outrageous and offensive nonsense which had nothing to do with human rights at all, and at the weekend he made an attempt to remedy the situation. Angrily condemning the killers, he stressed that no ethnic tradition could excuse them.

The photograph is borrowed from the website

Previous weekly reviews can be read at

(Translation by DM)




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