Anna Politkovskaya: an audience with Ramzan Kadyrov

The Guardian have been serialising extracts from the last book written by the assassinated Russian journalist, Anna Politkovskaya ([1], [2]). In today’s G2 supplement, there is an account of her meeting with Ramzan Kadyrov, the Kremlin-sponsored thug of a president (or whatever he’s called), who holds court in a village from which his hoodlums have expelled the natives. Here are a few extracts of my own:

What does he most enjoy doing? “Fighting. I am a warrior.” Has he ever killed anyone himself? “No. I’ve always been in command.”

But he is too young always to have been in command. Somebody must have given him orders. “Only my father. Nobody else ever gave me orders, or ever will.”

Has he given orders to kill? “Yes.”

Is that not terrible? “It is not I, but Allah. The Prophet said the Wahhabis [in the Chechen context, radical Islamic groups] must be destroyed.”

Did he really say that? And when there are no more Wahhabis left, who will Kadyrov fight? “I will take up bee farming. Already I have bees, and bullocks, and fighting dogs.”

He tells the writer that he is studying law - he doesn’t remember what type (!) at some college in Gudermes.

Kadyrov’s real hobby is setting people at each other’s throats, and nobody at the table can rival him in this. The conversation becomes more animated. “You are putting the case for bandits”; “You are an enemy of the Chechen people”; “You should have to answer for this” - all these comments are addressed to me. Ramzan is shouting, jumping up and down in his chair, and Nikolai Ivanovich, the translator at his side, is goading him on. We are seated round a large, oval table and the scene increasingly resembles a thieves’ convention. Ramzan behaves more and more oddly, as if he is the oldest person in the house, though he is the youngest. He laughs at inappropriate moments. He scratches himself. He orders his bodyguards to scratch his back. He arches himself, wriggling, and keeps making irritating, inane remarks. Then he goes to watch himself on television. He is very pleased about this, and comments on the way Putin walks: “He’s got real class!” He declares that Putin walks like a mountain-dweller.

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