Head of Chechnya says his controversial comments not aimed at “legal opposition”

Ramzan Kadyrov file photo

(Interfax – Moscow, January 18, 2016)

Head of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov has said that his comments, which caused an outcry, were not aimed against the lawful opposition in Russia; he expressed the view that Russian human rights commissioner Ella Panfilova “was too hasty” to criticize him.

“I was not talking about the lawful opposition, which raises social and economic problems, housing and communal services issues and so on!” Kadyrov wrote on his Instagram page.

He stressed that he had “made a firm statement about those who left Russia and who smear and slander our country from there”. “They threaten Russia, they go to the USA, to European capitals, and offer suggestions on what sanctions to impose to undermine Russia’s economy, security and stability. They also threaten to take back Crimea in 30 seconds. Not clear where to! It was them and their henchmen inside the country that I meant when I said that the non-establishment opposition should be brought to account,” Kadyrov wrote.

The head of Chechnya also expressed bewilderment at the criticism levelled at him by Russian human rights commissioner Ella Panfilova.

“I can’t understand why strong statements were made by human rights commissioner Ella Pamfilova, whom I respect, who never spoke like this before, whatever was happening in the country. I think Ella Aleksandrovna was too hasty,” Kadyrov wrote.

Furthermore, he emphasized that he did not regard “people who constantly look to the West” as “part of our society”. “They immediately started shouting about threats and so on. I’ll be blunt: I was not making threats!” the head of Chechnya pointed out.

He added that “if they took my opinion as a threat, it goes to show that they realize that we gave our lives for Russia, for our common Fatherland, and that we’ll do whatever it takes to defend our Motherland”. “And healthy society, by which I mean over 146m citizens of Russia, should not allow itself to be drawn into a campaign of slander,” Kadyrov stressed.

[Passage omitted: Kadyrov described “non-establishment opposition” as “enemies of the people” at a meeting with journalists on 12 January. His words were quoted on his official website. Kadyrov’s comments were later criticized at the Presidential Council for Human Rights and by Pamfilova. A statement signed by a number of rights campaigners and public figures and posted on the website of the Intelligentsia Congress called for Kadyrov’s dismissal.]

Chechen human rights commissioner Nurdi Nukhazhiyev said earlier that Ramzan Kadyrov’s comments about “enemies of the people” only applied to the section of the opposition which posed a threat to Russia’s national security.

[featured image is file photo]