Chechen leader posts video showing opposition figures in a sniper scope: Press reports on the publication on the Instagram page of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov of a video showing the leader of the opposition party Parnas Mikhail Kasyanov in a sniper's crosshairs. The video also shows Parnas' deputy chairman Vladimir Kara-Murza Jr. Kasyanov qualified the video as a direct threat of a murder and stressed that President Putin should react. Putin's spokesman Peskov said that he doesn't follow Kadyrov's Instagram, but pledged to study the information. Reportedly, Instagram has removed the video from Kadyrov's Instagram account. Meanwhile, the media refers to Stratfor's report, which suggested that Putin has "multiple reasons to keep Kadyrov close. Not only did Kadyrov bring stability to Chechnya, he commands 40,000 fighters." Stratfor calls Kadyrov an "additional counterweight to the FSB" and notes that Putin is "unsure of who within the Kremlin elite is still beholden to him." Gazeta.ru, Kommersant, NG, RBK; Ekho Moskvy; link to EU Ambassador Usackas' statement: http://eeas.europa.eu/delegations/russia/press_corner/all_news/news/2016/20160202_en.htm)
20 facts about Chechnya: RBK daily presents 20 main facts about Chechnya, including the socioeconomic development, demographic situation, security etc. The newspaper writes that between 2007 and 2015, Chechnya received RUR539 billion from the federal budget, adding that Chechnya is among the three most subsidized regions. As of 2016, the population of Chechnya was 1.4 million people, or slightly less than 1% of the Russian population. On the basis of official statistics, Chechnya is ranked one of the safest Russian regions in past years. (RBK)
Polemics between Chechen leader and opposition: The media reports on ongoing polemics between Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov and the non-systemic opposition following the publication on Kadyrov's Instagram page of a video showing the leader of the opposition party Parnas Mikhail Kasyanov in the crosshairs of a sniper's rifle. Later, the video was removed from Kadyrov's Instagram account. Chechnya's Information Minister Dzhambulat Umarov suggested that the video featured a periscope, not a sniper's rifle. Kadyrov on Tuesday suggested that opposition figures go to court. Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes that "the liberal opposition set a course for an escalation of the conflict with Kadyrov." The newspaper mentions a phone conversation between EU Ambassador to Russia Vygaudas Usackas and Kasyanov and says that the EU diplomat "harshly criticised the head of the region and Russia in general." Nezavisimaya Gazeta expresses 'surprise' over Usackas' statement and remarks that "assessment of what is and what is not acceptable in the democratic society is not part of Ambassadors' official duties." President Putin's spokesman Peskov said on Tuesday that Kasyanov has the right to expect a reaction from the President to the publication on Kadyrov's Instagram. Meanwhile, Vedomosti recalls that Kadyrov's current term as Chechnya's head expires in April and adds that the next head of Chechnya will be elected by direct vote in September 2016. (Gazeta.ru, Interfax, Lenta.ru, NG, Novye Izvestia, Vedomosti)
Opposition calls for probe into Chechen leader's video: The chairman of the opposition party Parnas Mikhail Kasyanov and his deputy Vladimir Kara-Murza Jr. have asked Russian law enforcement agencies to open a criminal investigation into the video posted on Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov's Instagram page. The video showed Kasyanov and Kara-Murza in the crosshairs of a sniper's rifle. Later, Instagram administration removed the video. Meanwhile, Kadyrov's spokesman Alvi Karimov called on EU Ambassador to Russia Vygaudas Usackas for explanations over "which statements by Chechen head Kadyrov on Instagram contain ‘open murder threats’." In response, the EU Delegation said that "the publication of Kadyrov's Instagram page and its subsequent removal speak for themselves." (Gazeta.ru, Interfax, Kommersant, Lenta.ru, TASS)
Chechens back Russians on the ground in Syria: According to an interview with Chechen leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, on Russian state television, special forces from Russia’s mostly Muslim region of Chechnya are on the ground in Syria, helping the Russian warplanes strike opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Reportedly over 500 Chechen fighters are said to be fighting with IS in Syria. The film about Chechnya's involvement in the Syrian conflict will be aired on February 10 on "Russia 1" TV channel. Meanwhile, newspapers report that German chancellor Angela Merkel criticised Russia on for bombings in Syria that have forced tens of thousands of civilians to flee, suggesting they were in violation of a UN Security Council resolution that Moscow signed in December. (RBK, Kommersant)
Russia has started snap drills in the country's Southern Military District: According to Defense Ministry, the drills aimed at inspecting the combat readiness of troops located in the country's Southern Military District and were started "In accordance with the decision of the commander-in-chief Russian President Vladimir Putin". Reportedly the troops of the Southern Military District, units of the airborne troops and military transport aviation have been placed on full combat alert. The Southern Military District is one of the four operational strategic commands of the Russian Armed Forces. It includes troops based in North Caucasus and in Crimea, as well as the Black Sea Fleet and Caspian Flotilla. Reportedly Russia has voluntarily informed members of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) of having started surprise checks of combat readiness in its Southern Military District. (Interfax, Vedomosty, Nezavisimaya Gazeta)
Opposition politician Kasyanov attacked in Moscow restaurant: Reportedly, the leader of the opposition party Parnas, former PM Mikhail Kasyanov was attacked by a group of 10 attackers at a restaurant in central Moscow on Wednesday. Kasyanov said that the attackers threw a cake at him and shouted threats against him. He described the alleged assailants as people of 'non-Slavic appearance'. President Putin's spokesman Peskov condemned the attack. At the same time, Peskov said that "there is no reason to associate anyone with the leadership of Chechnya or the leadership of other regions." (Interfax, Kommersant.ru)
Putin dismisses head of Investigative Committee's branch for Chechnya: President Putin has dismissed the head of the Investigative Committee's branch for Chechnya Sergey Devyatov. Novaya Gazeta does not rule out that the decision was targeted against Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov. (Novaya Gazeta)
At least two policemen killed in blast near traffic police post in Dagestan: According to media reports, two police officers were killed and at least nine other people were wounded in a car explosion near a traffic police post in Dagestan's Derbent district on Monday. Sources in law enforcement agencies did not rule out that a suicide bomber might have been responsible for the blast. (Interfax, Kommersant)
Islamic State claims responsibility for Dagestan blast: Two police officers were killed and 18 other people were wounded in a car explosion near a traffic police checkpoint on Monday in Dagestan's Derbent district. Law enforcement officials did not rule out that the attack might have been perpetrated by a suicide bomber. The suspected perpetrator has been identified as a resident of Dagestan who had studied in Astrakhan. The Islamic State group (banned in Russia) has claimed responsibility for the bombing. According to investigators, members of the 'Yuzhdag' gang could be involved in the attack. (Gazeta.ru, Kommersant, Novye Izvestia; Channel One, RT)
Opposition activist presents report about Chechnya's Kadyrov: Deputy head of the opposition party Parnas Ilya Yashin on Tuesday presented a report, titled 'A Threat to National Security', on the situation in Chechnya and Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov's activity. RBK daily says that the 60-page report is based mainly on media publications over the past ten years, adding that its main goal was to prove that Kadyrov's regime poses a threat to Russia. Meanwhile, Kadyrov posted Yashin's report on his social network account before the report was presented. The Chechen leader called the report 'chatter'. (ii) A poll carried out by VTSIOM revealed that Russians' attitudes towards Kadyrov have improved in past years. E.g. 31% of respondents said that they respect Kadyrov (11% in 2007), and 15% trust him (7% in 2007). (Gazeta.ru, MK, Novaya Gazeta, RBK, Vedomosti; see also 'blogs monitoring')
Blogger Creampiee: 'Opposition draws on rumours'
The blogger points at Yashin's failure and argues that the report does not present new information and is not based on substantiated facts. Furthermore, he notes that "Kadyrov has nothing to fear, politicians like him are often vilified" and concludes in conviction that Yashin will soon be facing "big problems".
Majority of comments in the wider blogosphere are in line with the overall hostile attitude to non-systemic opposition and liberals. They mock Yashin; some see the report as an attempt to gain recognition at Kadyrov's expense; many are threatening, for example 19_lovely_87 is satirising that "He (Yashin) is asking for a date with Nemtsov"; others talk of a liberal conspiracy whereby his allies are expected to harm him, thus making him a new "sacral victim" (nathan_zachary; jyhynjoh).
Nemtsov murder case: In an article published on the eve of the first anniversary of the murder of opposition politician Boris Nemtsov, who was killed on 27 February 2015 in central Moscow, Novaya Gazeta wrote that FSB head Bortnikov informed President Putin about the perpetrators of the crime on 2 March. Novaya Gazeta went on to say that Bortnikov reported that the perpetrators included a group of Chechen law enforcement officers of the Russian Interior Troops' Sever battalion under the leadership, presumably, of deputy commander of the battalion Ruslan Geremeyev. (Novaya Gazeta of 24 February, New Times)
Chechnya's Kadyrov declares desire to end his political career: Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, whose term of office expires in April, announced in an interview on Saturday that he would like to step down and end his political career. Experts suggest that it's not accidental that Kadyrov made his statement on 27 February, the first anniversary of Nemtsov's killing. Some commentators view his statement as a demonstration of his loyalty to the Kremlin. The press mentions that President Putin has appointed Rashid Temrezov as acting head of the Republic of Karachayevo-Cherkessia in connection with the expiry of his term of office. (ii) Reportedly, a mass brawl between soldiers took place last week in a military unit in the village of Borzoi in Chechnya's Shatoi district. Chechen leader Kadyrov denied that that the brawl was ethnically motivated. (Gazeta.ru, Kommersant, NG, RG, Vedomosti, RT; see also 'blogs monitoring')
Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov stepping down?
Most common speculations in the Russian blogosphere include the expectation that Kadyrov is either going to be promoted, that he is being disciplined or that his intention to step down is "a classic dictatorial coquetry (making it seem that one is leaving while watching his subjects plead to stay)" (Oleg Kashin).
Oleg Kashin: https://slon.ru/posts/64599