LIVE UPDATES: Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov denied he had any hostility toward slain opposition leader Boris Nemtsov and said the suspects had no motivation or organization to kill him. He also said President Vladimir Putin will determine his future after his term ends this month.
Welcome to our column, Russia Update, where we will be closely following day-to-day developments in Russia, including the Russian government’s foreign and domestic policies.
The previous issue is here.
– How Boris Nemtsov Was Murdered: Investigation by Novaya Gazeta
–The Non-Hybrid War
–Kashin Explains His âLetter to Leadersâ on âFontanka Officeâ
–TV Rain Interviews Volunteer Fighter Back from Donbass
— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick
Novaya Gazeta reports that the Ostankino District Court in Moscow has vacated the judgement of a justice of the peace who had declared the Institute for Human Rights guilty of violating the procedure for NGOs requiring registration as a “foreign agent” if an organization engages in unspecified “political activity” and receives funds from abroad.
The Institute’s lawyer Damir Gaynutdinov said their case had been sent for new review but the statute of limitations has expired and the court is obliged to close the case.
The Institute for Human Rights is a long-standing non-profit organization devoted to research and policy proposals on human rights issues. Its president is Sergei Kovalev, a biologist and close friend of Dr. Andrei Sakharov, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate. Kovalev, a former political prisoner, chairman of Memorial Society and former member of parliament frequently writes essays critical of the Kremlin, notably about Russian aggression in Chechnya, Ukraine and Syria but has not joined in organized opposition activity.
With this decision, Russian authorities may have drawn the line where they will prosecute “foreign agents,” but it will remain puzzling to many as numerous other groups — including the Sakharov Center, where Kovalev has also been active — have hewed to human rights rather than “political” agendas, even if they are critical of current policy, and yet have had to pay the 300,000 ruble fine.
— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick
Interfax asked Kadyrov if he feared any criminal prosecution for his threats against the opposition, including posting a surveillance tape of Parnas opposition party chair Mikhail Kasyanov and journalist Vladimir Kara-Murza, Jr. shown through a sniper’s scope.
Kadyrov ducked the question and took the occasion to once again blame the opposition for not behaving as he believed an opposition should, and castigating them because while some of them were in power (Kasyanov was Putin’s prime minister), they ostensibly didn’t have complaints then. Kadyrov said (translation by The Interpreter):
“If we speak about Mikhail Kasyanov, then there has never been a more gray personality in politics. All of his work consists of systematic trips around the capitals of Western countries. What purposes do these people pursue? Very simple. I don’t doubt one bit that that they have absolutely no serious goals. The plans of actions are most likely written up at the US State Department, and the details are received from various types of specific ministries in the West, possibly even intelligence agencies. The task is set to them to destabilize the situation in the country from inside, to raise the population, to provoke street actions, try to force the use of force, and distract all the attention of the country’s leadership from foreign policy tasks, and force the Kremlin to refrain from taking part in solving world problems…
The danger is that to this day, no appropriate measures of counteraction have been taken. Kasyanov and others systematically meet with representatives of the West, obtain instructions from them, and possibly a solid financial support. They are not embarrassed by this. They openly advise our non-friends (read: enemies), where the strike should be made in order to disrupt the economy, to provoke political instability. If Kasyanov was a patriot, at this difficult time for Russia, he would tell the president and the prime minister that he would like to put his shoulder to the wheel, he is ready to be a consultant, a minister’s aide, an advisor, that he does not need positions and power.
Of course such people pose a threat for the economic, political and social security of Russia. I think even a military threat as well. Kasyanov and some other former officials most likely are the bearers of state secrets, and there is no certainty that they will not share them.
We need to call a spade a spade. War has virtually been declared against us. Economic, diplomatic, information and ideological. The advance guard, the paratroopers are already in Russia. These Kasyanovs and others. I did not mount a photo of Kasyanov with the scope, and did not place it in the Internet. The photo or video there, I don’t recall, was sent to me by someone who said it was from the Internet. I thought it was funny that a former prime minister and ‘leader of the opposition’ abroad was holding some secret meetings, hiding from Russian journalists. This is funny. And once again, ‘who doesn’t understand, will’ means, for those who still haven’t figured out what Kasyanov represents, they will see and understand when they learn that he went for his latest hand-out. Kasyanov was only waiting for this. ‘Oh, they’re threatening me,’ and so on…Who is threatening him, why, for what reason, whom does he personally bother? Nobody. A pathetic person, who has lost himself, running around the offices of petty Western bureaucrat. That is humiliating for the former prime minister of a great country.”
Kadyrov said 250-300 natives of Chechnya, including both Russian citizens and residents of Europe, were in Syria and Iraq. He said volunteers “who have no relationship to military service of the Interior Ministry” were tracking such fighters “at the risk of their own lives” and they “had personal scores to settle, and these were settled, even if the bandits tried to hide.” He said no fighter would be allowed to get back into Russia and said he doubted they would be able to.
“First, they don’t live long there, and second they understand perfectly well that penetrating Russia will be very difficult for them,” he explained.
The following headlines were drawn from Deutsche Welle, Interfax, RBC, Novaya Gazeta, Gazeta, Free Beacon, Vedomosti,
— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick