Interfax: Chechen leader on Nemtsov murder, investments, oil, Ukraine, marriage
(Interfax – June 18, 2015)
The Kremlin-backed leader of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, has suggested that the murderers of Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov should be sought in Ukraine, rather than in Chechnya. He praised his region’s economic potential and oil reserves. Kadyrov also slammed Committee Against Torture Russian human rights organization, accusing them of following the West’s guidelines to Russia’s detriment. He confirmed the presence of Chechen volunteers in eastern Ukraine but ruled out the existence of a Chechen battalion. He also touched on marriage traditions in Chechnya and his friendship with French actor Gerard Depardieu in a lengthy interview with Interfax correspondents, Vyacheslav Terekhov and Andrey Novik, published on 18 June.
Asked if he believes that Chechen man Zaur Dadayev was responsible for Boris Nemtsov’s murder in February 2015, he said:
“I think that the trace of the crime should not be sought in Chechnya but in Ukraine, the SBU [the Security Service of Ukraine] and further, in the USA. There are many preconditions to assume that [ethnic Chechen] Adam Osmayev, who currently commands a Ukrainian battalion named after Dzhokhar Dudayev, is behind the murder,” he said.
“Adam Osmayev works for the Western secret services, acting as their pawn, and knows very well how to get rid of a problematic person. The organizers of the murder had used Nemtsov and later eliminated him. Now they are trying to shift the blame on to somebody else. They accuse me of saying in the past that Nemtsov should be killed but this is not true! What was the point of murdering him? Had he done anything to us? Had he hampered me in any way? He had not even visited Chechnya for many years. The last time I saw him was in Gudermes some 14 years ago,” Kadyrov said.
He also stressed that he did not believe that Ruslan Geremeyev, deputy commander of the Sever battalion in Chechnya, was complicit in Nemtsov’s murder.
“I know Ruslan Geremeyev very well. We fought against terrorists. I know him as a patriot of Russia and I think it is wrong to accuse him. I do not believe that he could be complicit in this. I read in the press that he has left,” Kadyrov said.
“When everything is sorted out, Geremeyev will have an opportunity to prove his innocence and sue those who defamed him. I certainly do not know details related to his alleged departure,” he added.
Chechens in eastern Ukraine
He said that Chechen volunteers were indeed present in eastern Ukraine but ruled out rumours of a Chechen battalion there.
“There are certainly [Chechen] volunteers there [in eastern Ukraine] but not only from Chechnya but from other regions as well. There are even Americans there. People can see injustice practised by the Ukrainian leadership, Europe, and the West and travel there to defend the people of Donetsk and Luhansk. This is nothing extraordinary. I do not know how many people are there. People keep going and leaving,” Kadyrov said.
“Had there been a Chechen battalion there, everything would have ended a long time ago. They would have reached Kiev a long time ago. If we look at the situation realistically, the situation there is contained by the Russian leadership,” he said.
“I have been saying for a long time that if we are accused of aggression, let us show them in reality how we can fight. And then the Kiev regime will smell gunpowder,” Kadyrov said.
He also criticized the Kiev government of appointing a former Georgian president as governor of Odessa region.
“What did they do in Odessa? They appointed Saakashvili, who had betrayed his own people, as governor. I had always thought that the Ukrainians were strong and courageous people and had their own ambitions. I think that there are no patriots left there anymore. Had there been a single patriot there, they would have long expelled Saakashvili from there so he could go and ride his bike in America,” he said.
Kadyrov criticized reports that suggest that Chechnya is dependent on federal subsidies alone, arguing that his region possibly possesses as much oil as Saudi Arabia.
“Let me tell you that we receive the same subsidies as other regions – not more and not less. The federal targeted programme of support for Chechnya was endorsed to the tune of R130bn of which we have only received R70bn despite the fact that our republic was destroyed during the [1990s] war,” he said.
“Our ill-wishers want to portray us in a negative light. They are filming reports about our republic, [and say] that all taxes come to Chechnya and get lost here. This is a lie,” he said.
“In a number of branches of economy, growth reaches 100 per cent. In terms of the growth rate, our republic is among the five leaders. We are opening factories and plants and we have increased the tax collection rate. Yet we certainly have problems too. For example, major Russian banks who are supposed to be helping the regions are not giving us loans even despite the fact that our projects are better in every respect. They are transparent and profitable, and investors are offered full guarantees that their money will be secure,” Kadyrov said.
He said that Chechnya also has foreign investors.
“For example, we are currently in talks with the United Arab Emirates to ensure that they undertake support for small and medium-sized businesses. New entrepreneurs here will receive grants starting from 50,000 dollars. We are trying to work with various partners. We had very good relations with Israel and Western Europe but this all stopped due to the sanctions. Now we are having to knock on other doors to ensure that investments keep flowing in. There are many ongoing projects in Chechnya now with the participation of Russian and foreign investors. These give Chechnya thousands of jobs and large budget revenues,” Kadyrov stressed.
“Oil extraction has fallen to 600,000 t currently even though our oil was the purest in the Soviet Union. Our revenue from oil amounts to zero today. Very little money is allocated for geological exploration. There are no new [oil] wells, and all taxes from the existing ones go to Moscow. The same is true of the construction of an oil processing plant: despite the [Russian] president’s instruction, things have not started. We have agreed to meet the leadership of [Russian oil major] Rosneft to discuss all problematic issues and I think we will come to an agreement. I will disclose a secret and say that we have a lot of oil here. Our elders say that the amount is no less than in Saudi Arabia,” he said.
Akhmat Kadyrov Foundation
Kadyrov denied media reports that the Akhmat Kadyrov Foundation is partially sponsored through money collected from the salaries of public sector workers.
“If even a single resident of this republic fails to get their salary in full, I will stop respecting myself. Those who deduct funds from people’s salaries are no men or Muslims to me. When my father died, my mother set up this foundation, investing in it everything we had. Currently, the foundation is engaged in business, building facilities, earning money and helping those in need on the money earned,” he said.
“When we were rebuilding the republican stadium, I sold all my cars, except for an old Zhiguli, and transferred all my salary to the foundation. Everybody knows this. Those who think that it is possible to play games, using the names of my parents against me, are deeply mistaken and should be brought to account for this,” Kadyrov said.
Kadyrov reiterated that he supports the idea of electing regional governors through a direct vote and stressed that he would not run unless he knew that 90 per cent of voters supported him.
“I have always said that regional heads should be elected through a direct vote. We elect MP and municipalities, so why should we display such distrust towards regional leadership? As a result, sometimes it so happens that in some regions, people who are equipped with power enjoy absolutely no authority and are only supported by three to four per cent of the population,” he said, adding that “the question about a direct vote should be addressed to Moscow, not me”.
“I would never occupy this seat if I collected less than 90 per cent of votes” Kadyrov said.
Kadyrov said he welcomed opposition but opposed those who sought to harm Chechnya’s image from abroad.
“I am an enemy to those who murder and rob. I am against representatives of the devilish direction who ran away to Europe and are trying to harm the image of our republic and this country from there. If a serious opposition politician emerges I will immediately meet and speak with them. I can find common language with anybody,” he said.
Committee Against Torture
Kadyrov slammed the operation of the Russian human rights organization Committee Against Torture, accusing them of fulfilling the West’s agenda.
“What is the committee doing here? There is no war here and nobody is being tortured or abducted. Chechnya is the most peaceful region at the moment and even prosperous Europe admits this. Let me tell you what they are doing here. They find marginal people, such as drug addicts, and tell them to write a statement against Kadyrov for money. This is how they process foreign grants. They do not seek to protect people. They are corrupt and their office is in America. They are doing everything in their power to discredit our republic. We certainly have human rights organizations here that are exercising their direct functions and are welcome to continue doing so,” he said.
No federal ambitions
Kadyrov ruled out having any ambitions to work in the federal government.
“I have never had [federal ambitions] and will never have them. I do not want to work either in the government or the Presidential Administration, or the State Duma or the Federation Council. This is not for me. I want to complete my work here,” he said.
Work of law enforcers
Kadyrov said he would eradicate the practice of law enforcers operating using masks.
“During the war, people in masks abducted and murdered our residents. Terrorists also operate in masks. After the war, this is a very painful issue for Chechnya. Back in 2005, I said that since we were following the right path and defending the constitution and the law and order, there should be no room for mask shows. What is there to hide? What is the point in working in masks if we are defending the law?” he said.
He once again slammed Stavropol law enforcers for killing Chechen man Dzhambulat Dadayev, who was suspected of murder, during a special operation in Chechnya recently.
“Stavropol law enforcers violated all rules and laws which were, incidentally, not invented by me, in trying to detain Dzhambulat Dadayev. It is wrong to detain a crime suspect in this fashion. Nevertheless, nobody cares about this now. The attitude is nonchalant. Even the Investigative Committee refused to launch a criminal case into the killing of Dadayev,” he said.
“My statement sounds threatening for bandits and terrorists, not for those who are defending the law and order. We have fought and intend to continue fighting against Russia’s enemies without hiding our faces. After conducting special operations and eliminating the most blood-thirsty ringleaders of the terrorists, we have never hidden the identities of those who took part in this or who eliminated individual ringleaders. This is how we fought against terrorism,” Kadyrov said.
“I am not threatening anybody. I only ask for and demand observance of the laws and rules that were not invented by me. It is true that I am the least problematic person in Russia. One phone call, just one word from the commander-in-chief is tantamount to a law for me. Like nobody else, I am loyal to the president. How could I fight against his subjects? However, those who violate the law on the territory that is entrusted to me are criminals for me and for all citizens and should be held accountable for their actions under Russian laws,” Kadyrov said.
Relatives of rebels
He reiterated his conviction that relatives of rebels should be held accountable for their actions.
“This, however, is not only about relatives who did not know anything about the grave crimes committed by their loved ones. If the relatives can see that the person disobeys them, goes to forest [i.e. joins rebels], takes up weapons to murder, they should report this to the law-enforcement agencies. However, when they help terrorists, feed them and supply them with weapons, these are not just relatives but accomplices of terrorists. It means that they should not receive their pensions or salaries here so that they can send the money they earn here to the bandits,” Kadyrov said.
“However, if a person repents in a timely manner they are welcome to return to normal life. I have saved thousands of such people who had gone astray. We have issued amnesty for about 8,000 young people and sent them back home,” he said.
Polygamy is “a blessing”
Kadyrov said that Islam permits polygamy and that Chechen men should be allowed to practice it if their circumstances allow them to do so.
“Our religion permits polygamy. This is not an obligation but the possibility exists if health and material conditions permit people to pursue this. Polygamy is necessary to prevent people from having lovers from whom they get a lot of problems both health-wise and in terms of discord at home. They are forced to live in lies, permanently cheating on their wives and children,” he said.
“Many people find this strange. But I tell them to find at least one man who did not have several lovers. There are no such men. And all these men cheat on their wives. I would never be able to cheat on my wife. Therefore, polygamy is very good, while having many lovers is wrong. If I oppose polygamy I will not be Muslim. I support men having several wives if they need them and are capable of supporting them. This would also resolve the demographic problem in Russia,” he said and added that this is not at variance with Russian laws.
“We are not violating the law of the Russian Federation. Only one marriage is registered at the marriage registry. There are 25m Muslims in Russia and for such regions as Dagestan, the Chechen Republic and Ingushetia, polygamy should be allowed. Those who think that we are savages for this are savages themselves because this is a normal, pure and right attitude towards women,” he said.
Kadyrov also commented on the recent wedding of 17-year-old Luiza (Kheda) Goylabiyeva, who was reportedly forced to marry 47-year-old Nazhud Guchigov, the chief of police in Chechnya’s Nozhay-Yurtovskiy District. The wedding caused controversy and condemnation in Russia.
“A 17-year-old girl married a 47-year-old strong and healthy man in Chechnya and this is presented as a tragedy. However, unfortunately, few people speak about thousands of rapes of underage children in other regions. Men here lead a healthy lifestyle, engaging in sports and are in good health after 40. A 93-year-old man recently married a 33-year-old woman here and she gave birth to their son,” he said.
Chechens in Russian cities
Kadyrov said that the behaviour of ethnic Chechens across Russia has significantly improved of late.
“The situation is now absolutely different. Things have stabilized. It is no longer fashionable to kick up a brawl. Chechens live normally in the capital [Moscow]. Moscow does not complain. Those who violate order and commit crimes, and use foul words, are not Chechens even if they come from Chechnya. I ask people’s forgiveness for them,” he said.
Kadyrov said that French actor Gerard Depardieu has long been absent from Chechnya where he was presented with a luxurious flat a few years ago.
“Indeed, Depardieu has not appeared for a long time. Apparently, he has many apartments. He is a rich man. It is a pity he is not coming to the republic. When he lived in a hotel here, he cooked wonderfully. He loves to eat well. I thought I would resettle him here in Chechnya and go and have lunch with him. This did not work. However, I keep in touch with him and we are friends. He is truly our good friend,” Kadyrov said.