Kadyrov Militia Surrounds Chechen Whistle Blower’s Village

GROZNY, Chechnya – Interior Ministry troops controlled by Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov have reportedly surrounded the village of an outspoken resident who publicly called for a crackdown on the corrupt practiced of local officials.

In a video posted on the Internet on April 14, Chechen resident Ramazan Dzhalaldinov pleaded for assistance from Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying Putin needed to intervene personally in his native village of Kenkhi to stop local government bureaucrats and police officials from extorting bribes from the area’s impoverished residents.

Kadyrov, who rules Chechnya with an iron fist and tolerates no dissent in the restive North Caucasus republic, responded to the video by ordering armed personal militia forces – known colloquially as “kadyrovtsi” to surround the village and hunt down Dzhalaldinov.

Local residents told media outlet Kavkazky Uzel that Kadyrov’s feared paramilitaries have surrounded the village since May 14, detaining and interrogating residents as they attempt to locate Dzhalaldinov.

The 56-year-old Dzhalaldinov posted an online video on May 13 from neighboring Dagestan, saying he’d fled Chechnya after Kadyrov’s militia burned his house to the ground and threatened to kill him and his family unless he apologized for the original video addressed to Putin.

Under Kadyrov, Chechnya has become a republic of fear, known for forced disappearances and arbitrary justice as local pro-Moscow officials have spent the last decade stamping out what remains of the Chechen resistance to Russian rule.

Chechnya fought two devastating independence wars against Russia in the 1990s that killed an estimated 100,000 people. Initially a secular independence movement led by former President Dzhokhar Dudayev, the tiny republic’s drive to break free from Moscow later descended into a brutal insurgency dominated by radical Islamists.

Kadyov’s father, Akhmad, had served as the Grand Mufti of Chechnya under Dudayev. By the end of the 1990s, he and his father had switched sides and allied with Russia. Using men from the same armed groups that now carry out orders to crush dissent, Kadyrov successfully assisted the Russians defeat the rebel Chechens and restore Moscow’s authority over the region.

Since coming to power in 2004, Kadyrov has been accused of mass human rights abuses by both Russian and international organizations.

By Nicholas Waller

19 May 2016 14:14