Chechen leader threatens Russian opposition leaders in 'sniper' video
Pro-Kremlin Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who rules his southern Russian region with an iron grip, on Monday published a video showing opposition figures in the cross hairs of a sniper scope.
The clip, posted on Kadyrov's popular Instagram page, features former Russian prime minister Mikhail Kasyanov -- who heads the Parnas opposition party -- alongside Vladimir Kara-Murza, the party's deputy leader, targeted in the sights.
"Whoever did not get it will get it now!" Kadyrov wrote in the video's description, which also alleged the ex-premier had gone to France to raise money for the Russian opposition.
Kara-Murza told AFP he and Kasyanov considered Kadyrov's Instagram post a "direct incitement to murder."
"This is the result of the impunity that has reigned since Boris Nemtsov's murder," Kara-Murza said, referring to the opposition politician gunned down steps from the Kremlin last year.
Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Kremlin "does not monitor Kadyrov's Instagram account" but would look into the matter.
- 'Assassinate politicians' -
Kasyanov, who served as prime minister between 2000 and 2004, wrote on his Facebook page that Putin, who appointed Kadyrov in 2007, should be held accountable for the Chechen leader's actions.
"As the guarantor of the Constitution and citizens' rights and freedoms, Putin must stop this presumptuous official and provide a public assessment of his actions," Kasyanov wrote. "Putin bears personal responsibility for Kadyrov's actions."
The former prime minister also said he would file a complaint with law enforcement authorities "in the near future."
Mikhail Fedotov, the head of the Kremlin's human rights council, warned that Kadyrov's Instagram post could prompt some "unstable" people to assassinate politicians.
"In the country, there are mentally unstable people who may think that the head of a Russian region is calling for the murder of a political figure and interpret his words as a call for action," Interfax news agency quoted Fedotov as saying.
Kara-Murza said the footage used in Kadyrov's post was filmed by LifeNews, a sensationalist channel known for its ties to Russian security services.
It was shot while the two men took part in meetings -- including one dedicated to Nemtsov -- of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) last month in the eastern French city of Strasbourg.
Russian parliamentarians have snubbed PACE since 2014 after the body disqualified Russia from voting over Moscow's annexation of Crimea.
Kadyrov, who rules a North Caucasus region that was the scene of two separatist wars, has threatened Kremlin critics on several occasions in the past.
Last month, the Chechen leader penned a lengthy diatribe in pro-Kremlin daily Izvestiya against Putin's critics, calling them a "gang of jackals" who "dream of destroying our state."
The remarks caused an uproar and several people publicly criticised Kadyrov, prompting Chechen authorities to organise a mass rally in support of their strongman leader.
Several people who have challenged Kadyrov's grip on power had been killed in the past, including investigative reporter Anna Politkovskaya and rights activist Natalia Estemirova.
Chechens are also thought to be behind Nemtsov's murder. Two suspects are reportedly linked to an armed squad answerable to Kadyrov.
© 2016 AFP