Russian opposition slam Chechen strongman as 'national security threat'

23rd February 2016, Comments 0 comments

A ruthless and corrupt leader with his own private army who has carved out de facto independence for his restive region: Russia's opposition on Tuesday lashed out at Chechen strongman leader Ramzan Kadyrov in a new report.

The report -- authored by prominent opposition figure Ilya Yashin and entitled "National security threat" -- alleges that Kadyrov has been allowed by President Vladimir Putin to turn Chechnya into a personal fiefdom beyond the control of the central authorities.

"We are opposing a corrupt, dangerous regime that poses a threat to Russia and Chechnya," Yashin said at a press conference, which police tried to break up after a bomb warning.

"Today's regime in Chechnya you can describe as a personal rule."

Kadyrov has already been widely criticised for rights abuses during his iron fisted rule in Chechnya after he rose to power following the assassination of his father Akhmat Kadyrov in 2004.

In an Internet posting Kadyrov -- a former rebel fighter who officially took office in 2007 -- dismissed the report as "nothing more than chatter".

The release of the report comes just ahead of the one-year anniversary of the murder of opposition leader Boris Nemstov in central Moscow that allies of the slain Kremlin critic have blamed on the tight circle around Kadyrov.

Five Chechen men -- including a deputy commander of an interior ministry battalion from the region -- have been charged with carrying out a contract hit on Nemtsov last February 27, but no organisers have been detained.

Yashin -- a close ally of Nemtsov -- said he collated the report from open-source material in a bid to show that Kadyrov's rule in Chechnya now poses a threat to the whole of Russia.

Moscow fought two brutal separatist wars in Chechnya in the 1990s and early 2000s, but the region has now returned to relative stability under Kadyrov's iron-fisted grip despite a lingering Islamist insurgency.

But Yashin said that Putin's policy of giving Kadyrov a free hand in Chechnya in return for an end to all-out fighting now threatens to blow up in the Kremlin's face.

"Putin has put a time bomb in place in Chechnya that could lead to a third Chechen war or some other crisis," Yashin said.

The opposition estimates that Kadyrov now has some 30,000 fighters -- nominally under the control of Russia's interior ministry but actually loyal only to him -- under his personal command.

Kadyrov has recently sparked outrage with a string of public threats against prominent Kremlin critics.

Earlier this month Kadyrov posted a video of former prime minister Mikhail Kasyanov, the leader of opposition party Parnas, along with his deputy targeted in the sights of a sniper rifle.

Last month, the Chechen leader penned a lengthy diatribe against Putin's critics in pro-Kremlin daily Izvestiya, calling them a "gang of jackals" who "dream of destroying our state."

© 2016 AFP

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