Predators of Press Freedom: Russia - Ramzan Kadyrov
|Publisher||Reporters Without Borders|
|Publication Date||3 May 2011|
|Cite as||Reporters Without Borders, Predators of Press Freedom: Russia - Ramzan Kadyrov, 3 May 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4dc2b52828.html [accessed 21 May 2013]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
Ramzan Kadyrov, President of Republic of Chechnya, Russia
Often referred to as "Putin's guard dog," Ramzan Kadyrov shares the Russian prime minister's taste for crude language and strong action. President and undisputed chief of this Russian republic in the North Caucasus since April 2007, he has restored a semblance of calm after the devastation of two wars. A high price has been paid for this superficial stability, the introduction of a lawless regime. Kadyrov's private militias, which even carry out armed actions in neighbouring republics, are not the only ones to take advantage of this situation.
Anyone questioning the policies of this "Hero of Russia" (an award he received from Putin in 2004) is exposed to deadly reprisals. Two fierce critics of the handling of the "Chechen issue," reporter Anna Politkovskaya and human rights activist Natalia Estemirova, were both gunned down – Politkovskaya in Moscow in October 2006 and Estemirova in Chechnya in July 2009. When human rights activists blamed him for their deaths, Kadyrov was dismissive: "That's bullshit, that's just gossip," he said. A criminal prosecution was nonetheless brought against Oleg Orlov, the head of the Russian human rights NGO Memorial, for repeating the allegations.
The Chechen media toe the line. Kadyrov said this about terrorism: "My method is simple. Those who disrupt the people's peace must be dealt with harshly, cruelly even." And on the press, he added: "The press must be in the service of the Chechen people's unity." In practice, journalists interpret this as meaning they must praise his every action and the people's devotion to him.
To ensure absolute loyalty, Kadyrov uses not only fear but also money. New newspapers have been created with Chechen government funding to create the impression that the republic's media are flourishing and vibrant. But they all just repeat the same refrain ad infinitum. As for foreign journalists, they are accused of distorting Chechen reality. Kadyrov has a few friends he can count on. They include the only foreign head of state to congratulate him when he was sworn in for a second five-year term as president on 5 April 2011 – Belarusian dictator Aleksandr Lukashenko.