Gang leader killed in Dagestan: The National Antiterrorism Committee confirmed that the leader of the so-called 'Tsumada gang' Magomed Abdulkhalikov was killed in an operation on Monday in Dagestan. (Interfax, TASS)
Kadyrov's statements perceived as threat: Human rights activists and opposition figures qualified as an attempt to intimidate them a statement by Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who called representatives of the non-systemic opposition 'enemies of the people' and 'traitors' who should face trial. Activists called on law enforcement agencies to react to Kadyrov's statement. (Gazeta.ru, Kommersant, NG; Ekho Moskvy)
Human rights activists call for Kadyrov's resignation: The media reports on a controversy sparked by a statement by Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who called representatives of the non-systemic opposition 'enemies of the people'. A local deputy from Krasnoyarsk Konstantin Senchenko posted on Facebook a comment calling Kadyrov a "disgrace to Russia." However, one day later, Senchenko apologized to Kadyrov. A group of human rights activists and public figures signed an open letter calling for Kadyrov's resignation. Kommersant reports that deputy of the St. Petersburg city legislature Maxim Reznik intends to ask the Prosecutor General's Office to check Kadyrov's statement for possible extremism. Meanwhile, Chechen Parliament speaker Magomed Daudov and Duma deputy Adam Delimkhanov backed Kadyrov's position on 'enemies of the people'. In an interview with Novye Izvestia, the head of the Moscow Helsinki Group Lyudmila Alekseyeva expresses the view that Kadyrov makes such statements because he was given carte blanche. (Gazeta.ru, Kommersant, NG, Novye Izvestia, RBK; Ekho Moskvy)
Duma speaker calls 'unpleasant' situation around Chechen leader's remarks: Duma speaker Sergey Naryshkin on Monday described as 'unpleasant' the situation sparked by remarks made by Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who called representatives of the non-systemic opposition 'enemies of the people' and 'traitors'. Meanwhile, Chechen Parliament speaker Magomed Daudov, in a post on Instagram, used Kadyrov's dog to threaten Russian opposition activists and journalists. Gazeta.ru reports that Chechen journalists and public figures launched a flash mob in social networks 'Ramzan Kadyrov – the pride of Russia'. Expert Alexei Makarkin, cited by Vedomosti, expresses the view that the Kremlin is likely to allow Kadyrov's statements to fade away. (Gazeta.ru, KP, MK, MT, NG, Vedomosti)
Chechnya's Kadyrov clarifies remarks about 'enemies of the people': Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has clarified that his recent controversial comments [about 'enemies of the people'] concerned "those who have left Russia and who sling mud at our country and slander it." President Putin's spokesman Peskov on Wednesday called not to escalate tensions around Kadyrov's statements. (Izvestia, NG, RIAN; link to Kadyrov's article in Izvestia: http://izvestia.ru/news/601935)
Bill to ban mentioning terrorists' ethnicity: The Duma's Committee on Public Organizations has backed a draft bill which would ban to mention the ethnicity or religious affiliation of terrorists in the media. The bill was prepared by the Chechen Parliament. (RBK)
Standoff between opposition and Chechen leader: President Putin's spokesman Peskov on Wednesday for the first time commented on remarks by Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who has called representatives of the non-systemic opposition 'enemies of the people' and 'traitors'. Peskov said that Kadyrov spoke of the non-systemic opposition which "acts outside the legitimate political field of the country" and "whose activity does not stay within the bounds of the law and who are ready to break laws." Vedomosti writes in a comment that the Kremlin de facto supported Kadyrov's statement. Expert Konstantin Kalachev warns that this could be perceived as a 'call for action'. Press reports that a rally in support of Kadyrov is planned to be held on 22 January in Grozny (capital of Chechnya). (Gazeta.ru, Kommersant.ru, MT, Vedomosti; Ekho Moskvy)
Nemtsov murder solved?: In an interview with Rossiyskaya Gazeta-Nedelya, Russian Investigative Committee head Bastrykin claimed that the murder of opposition politician Boris Nemtsov had been solved. Nemtsov was killed on 27 February 2015 at a bridge near the Kremlin. RBK daily recalls that investigators have named a former officer of Chechnya's Sever' ('North') battalion (which is part of Russia's Interior Troops) Ruslan Mukhudinov as the mastermind of Nemtsov's killing. However, lawyer for the Nemtsov family, Vadim Prokhorov, disagreed that Mukhudinov could be the mastermind. Nemtsov's daughter, Zhanna Nemtsova, is quoted as saying that she does not consider the murder of her father to be solved. Kommersant reports that a hearing dedicated to the investigation of Nemtsov's murder is planned to be held in PACE on 25 January. (Gazeta.ru, Interfax, Kommersant, RBK, RG)
Money is the most popular explanation. Kadyrov has to be in the spotlight in order to get subsidies from the Federal Budget. Meanwhile, experts note that Kadyrov has nothing to worry about – while budgets of the regions in 2015 were cut 3%, Chechnya got 8% more.
Demonstration of power: It is a demonstration of Kadyrov's power in the region. The last rally against French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Grozny gathered 1 million participants and this Friday all TV channels will report about a million of protesters against 'enemies of Russia'.
Performance to distract attention from the falling rouble and economy: Kadyrov and his countrymen willingly leaving their working places to stage a protest are signs of a new social contract where the dialogue with society, decision-making are often replaced by a performance.
Kadyrov strives for more authority: While it is very unlikely that Kadyrov aims to be next Russian President, he can be used as a threat for opposition: "Better Putin then Kadyrov". This is to demonstrate to the opposition that in comparison with Chechnya they still live in a democratic state.
At the same time, some experts note that mobilization of the whole republic against one TV Channel [Dozhd] which is being watched by a handful of viewers and against a couple of opposition figures is rather a demonstration of perplexity and weakness than the unity against opposition.
While from the outside it seems that 99% of Chechens support Kadyrov, the situation is more complex than it is depicted by the local media. The recent history of the republic knows examples when Chechens were flexible in supporting different leaders and Kadyrov knows it better than anyone else. And this makes us to believe that the real aim of the rally is not really to frighten opposition, but to show who is the boss in the house.
According to latest reports, about 1 million people took part in today's rally in Grozny. According to statistics, population of Chechnya as of 1 December of 2015 was 1 million 393 thousand people.
Massive rally in Grozny in support of Chechen leader: Press reports broadly on a massive rally on 22 January in Grozny in support of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov and President Vladimir Putin. Organizers of the rally claimed that about 1 million people participated in the action. Kadyrov was not present. RBK daily writes that the leader of the pro-Kremlin biker club 'Night Wolves' Alexander Zaldostanov ('Surgeon') and a representative of the Russian Orthodox Church were among speakers. (ii) According to different estimates, between 200 and 700 people took part in an authorised action on Saturday in Moscow against political repressions and in support of 'political prisoners'. (Gazeta.ru, Izvestia, Novye Izvestia, RBK; Rossiya 1, Channel One)
PACE session: The session of the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) opens on Monday in Strasbourg. Nezavisimaya Gazeta reports that while the Russian official delegation refused to attend the session, representatives of the non-systemic opposition plan to attend events dedicated to Russia. Chairman of the opposition party Parnas Mikhail Kasyanov intends to report about tensions between the government and the opposition and recall recent remarks by Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov who called representatives of the non-systemic opposition 'enemies of the people'. Kasyanov is also expected to call on PACE to monitor the investigation of the murder of opposition politician Boris Nemtsov. (NG)
Putin takes part in All-Russia People's Front forum: At a session of the All-Russia People's Front on Monday in Stavropol, President Putin announced that Russia would expand restrictions against Turkey in the construction sector. Putin also clarified his remarks that Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin "has planted a time bomb under the Russian statehood" and slammed Lenin's concept of the Soviet Union, which provided constituent entities with the right to secede. Nezavisimaya Gazeta mentions that Putin praised the activity of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov. (Gazeta.ru, Kommersant, NG, RBK, RG; Rossiya 1, Channel One; see also economic headlines)
Governors' rating: Governor of the Yamalo-Nenets autonomous district Dmitry Kobylkin tops the final rating of governors' efficiency in 2015, released by the pro-Kremlin Foundation for Civil Society Development. Kaluga governor Anatoly Artamonov ranks second. The head of Tatarstan Rustam Minnikhanov, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov and Moscow mayor Sergey Sobyanin are among the ten most efficient heads of regions. (Izvestia, RBK, Vedomosti)
Perceptions of Kadyrov's statement about 'enemies of the people': According to a poll by the Levada-Centre, 59% of Russians view as 'unacceptable' the labelling by representatives of the authorities of critics of the government as 'enemies of the people' and threatening with reprisal against them. 15% consider this as 'acceptable'. The poll was conducted in the wake of a recent statement by Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who branded representatives of the non-systemic opposition as 'enemies of the people'. (Vedomosti; http://www.levada.ru/2016/01/28/kadyrov/)
Lawmaker calls to check a report by Ekho Moskvy radio station for 'separatism': Duma deputy Shamsail Saraliyev has asked the Prosecutor General's Office and the Investigative Committee to examine a report by Ekho Moskvy radio station which posted on its website an article by analyst Andrey Piontkovsky. Allegedly, Piontkovsky has called for Chechnya's secession from Russia. (Izvestia)