Ramzan Kadyrov, the Chechen Dragon

A short piece in the New York Review traces Ramzan Kadyrov’s involvement in the spate of murders of journalists and human rights advocates throughout the Northern Caucasus.

Kadyrov’s rise to power after his father’s assassination was the result of the Kremlin’s involvement in Chechnyan politics, as Putin sought to turn the once volatile war-torn region into a docile suzerain state. But the longer Kadyrov’s leash became, the more brazen he became in his drive to eliminate political opponents and turn Chechnya into a haven for corruption. As the late Anna Politkovskaya wrote after interviewing him in 2004, “a little dragon has been raised by the Kremlin. Now they need to feed it. Otherwise it will spit fire.”

It’s not difficult to imagine that soon the Kremlin will find itself in a tough position. As the article points out, reigning in Kadyrov could again open the door for Chechen Islamist resistance in the form of suicide bombings and hostage takeovers. And yet, as Kadyrov leaves a trail of bodies not only in Grozny and Moscow, but also in foreign cities like Vienna, how much more will Medvedev and Putin be willing to tolerate?

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