Thursday, October 5, 2017

With Perestroika in Reverse, Kadyrov Striving to Be a Federal Political Figure, ‘Gazeta’ Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, October 5 – For the second time in the last several weeks, Chechnya’s Ramzan Kadyrov has staked out a position on an issue of the day that at a minimum varies from that of the center and shows that the republic leader not only has the resources but the desire to become an all-Russian political figure, according to the editors of Gazeta.

              Not only did he speak out in defense of the Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar and declared he would oppose Moscow if it did not do the same but he has now come out in support of Natalya Poklonskaya and her embattled fight against the controversial film “Mathilda” (

            Kadyrov, the editors point out, “is not simply a regional leader with ‘a special status;’ he is an individual with his own forces, and this in our politics is become an ever more significant factor,” one that makes his public interventions on sensitive policy issues especially intriguing if not definitive in their meaning.        

            In the case of the Ronhingya, the editors say, Kadyrov in effect declared “I am for the position of Russia not as a matter of principle but just as long as it coincides with my own.”  And now he has challenged the center on “Mathilda” as well, a move that suggests “an attempt to acquire yet another new status, that of federal politician.”

            Kadyrov has tried this before, as in the case of his conflict with the leaders of neighboring republics. But then the center was able to put him in his place.  Now, however, it appears that the Chechen leader “has decided simply to skip over that” and become “a trendsetter of policy” for other regional leaders and more besides.

            But there appears to be more at work here even than that, Gazeta continues. Both Poklonskaya and Kadyrov have a common “fundamentalist” worldview, albeit one is Orthodox Christian and the other Islamic.  And the coming together of those two trends may generate even more concern in the Kremlin than “all the conspiracy thinking taken together.”

            “This is a coalition of fundamentalism which throughout the world independent of political slogans and religious banners already for a long time has been struggling against modernization and present-day culture as such.”  The distinctions between the two aren’t nearly as large as many like to think.

            Besides ideas, these two figures share many biographic similarities, the paper says; but in the current “political reality,” there is no reason to think that this “ultra-conservative union should acquire a real shape.” But it can be used as a signal “for ‘systemic liberals’” who need to be reminded yet again that the current regime is not the worst one possible.

            Earlier, the Kremlin puppeteers were happy to use radical extremists like Enteo, but “at a certain moment, they were given the signal to ‘stop’” before they did too much damage. But then it turned out that some of the ideas they had been promoting had broader support and that those in agreement didn’t plan to back down.

            And that led some to reach the conclusion most frightening to the Kremlin: that there are now doubts as to how much the situation is under its control.

            According to the editors, “the history of Rusisan power over the last quarter of a century can be described in approximately this way: first everyone thought that a popular mandate was its foundation, but then force came and shot up the parliament. Then everyone thought that at its base was money, but then came force and arrested several oligarchs.”

            “Then everyone thought that its foundation was bureaucratic influence, but then force came and got rid of dozens of governors and ministers. And when all finally understand that at the basis of everything was force, it turned out that there are many who have force” – and some who do are beginning to recognize that fact.

            “The country has made a complete circle. Sometime during Perestroiak there were activists who warmly supported its initiator and then became disappointed in him and accused him of lack of decisiveness.  Now,” the editors conclude, “we have Perestroika in reverse – and how it ended the first time, everyone remembers.”

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