Staunton, May 21 — Many in Russia and elsewhere have been horrified by the personal tragedy of the forced marriage of a young girl to a 57-year-old Chechen that Ramzan Kadyrov and some Russians have defended, but they should be more concerned about how this event sets the stage for a new Chechen war in the near future, according to Kseniya Kirillova.
In a commentary for Novy Region–2, Kirillova says that this unfortunate marriage is “yet another sign which shows that Russia will not be able to avoid a new Chechen war,” something that in turn will “become one of the signs, causes, and at the same time consequences of the collapse of the present-day Russian Federation.”
Kadyrov has thrown down the gauntlet before the Russian law-enforcement agencies in recent months, she points out. He has arrogated to himself the right to kill those he doesn’t like and to shoot to kill any representatives of the law-enforcers who come to Chechnya without his permission. Now, he has challenged Russian law. And in each case, he has “come out the winner.”
But it has become obvious to ever more people that the autocratic power of Kadyrov is “guaranteed only by the personal protection of Putin. Neither the law-enforcers nor even more ‘the systemic liberals’” are happy about the actions of “this little feudal prince whose ambitions are growing with each day,” Kirillova says.
That in turn means, she suggests, that “in the event of ‘a palace coup’ or as a result of other processes which lead to a weakening of Putin’s influence, the [Moscow] elites will do everything in order to remove this unpredictable competitor.” And because they have few levers, they will be forced to launch “a new war.”
(Kirillova does not allude to it, but there is another possible outcome: Putin could move to sack Kadyrov, either directly or by promoting him to Moscow.
That would entail risks as well, but dictators have often moved against those on whom they have up to that point relied. And Putin would win points in some quarters by getting rid of Kadyrov.)
But Kadyrov’s ouster is hardly going to be the end of the story either, Kirillova points out. “Chechnya is not just Ramzan Kadyrov.” If he goes, many Chechens who oppose both him and Moscow will come out of the underground and be prepared to engage in conflict and quite possibly terrorist attacks.
That danger may be staying Moscow’s hand and keeping Kadyrov in power, but it is a high risk strategy, one that means increasingly Chechnya will be an independent country within the Russian Federation, living by its own laws and demanding ever more support — and thus horrifying not only members of the elite but ordinary Russians as well.