On January 17, Grozny TV broadcast an evening news story featuring the head of the Chechen Republic Ramzan Kadyrov speaking at a meeting with officials from the Chechen Republic Ministry of Internal Affairs and the republican department of the Federal Service of the National Guard Troops.
That same night, the story was posted to the official Grozny TV YouTube channel.
In the video, Kadyrov repeatedly speaks about the work of human rights defenders in Chechnya, directly and unequivocally demonstrating that the arrest of Oyub Titiev, Memorial’s director in Chechnya, has been politically motivated. Kadyrov explains that human rights defenders are «enemies of the people» because they «snitch» and discredit their own people. There shall be no place for such persons in Chechnya, he said.
Kadyrov speaks degradingly of Zelimkhan Bakaev hinting at his presumed homosexuality and indicated that he was killed by his relatives.
Bakaev had lived in Moscow for years but traveled to Chechnya in summer 2017 to attend his sister’s wedding. Two friends of his said that armed masked men kidnapped him in downtown Grozny on August 8. Since then, there has been no confirmed information about his whereabouts. An online petition to free Bakaev collected 21,000 signatures over mere two days. On September 24, Grozny TV website featured a video where Bakaev stated that he was in Germany but his friends and human rights defenders thought it staged. Dzhambulat Umarov, Chechen minister for ethnic policy, later said that the disappeared singer was alive and went into hiding escape creditors.
Excerpts from Kadyrov’s January 17 statement permanent to human rights defenders and Bakaev are quoted below in translation from Chechen
Ramzan Kadyrov: No one cares more about the human rights of the Chechen people than the leadership of Chechnya
On human rights defenders and journalists (direct quotes)
Today, in our territory… when any political situation arises, it is Chechnya that is first to blame by anyone who call themselves rights defenders… journalists, seeking publicity, seeking [to get] their names in the press… «Chechen Republic, Kadyrov, human rights abuses» — that’s how they all start.
They… must know that anyone trying to harm the Chechen people do evil, be if even a rights defender’s seventh father [ancestor in the seven generation], such person shall have no place in Chechnya!
If he wants to protect rights he must cooperate with us, with the authorities, together. As the guarantor of the constitution, I am open to everyone. A rights defender is supposed to turn to me at least once in a year, to say «hey, here is a violation», isn’t he?
A sound person would never trade the interests of his people… He would never let a bad word about his people be said… They [rights defenders] would say all sorts of things, they just need a hundred dollars in their pocket and a destination tag where to go snitching. It is false snitching. They report what doesn’t exist — OK, even if there was something — he is discussing it, he is writing his papers, it means that he up against his people. His is the enemy of our people. His fellow villagers must be aware of it, his family must be aware of it, whoever he may be, no difference!
They [rights defenders] have no Motherland. They have no Motherland, no ethnicity, no religion… They don’t even understand what it means. They have the interest. A person working for them and this person claiming to be a Chechen… I am very surprised to see such a person. I am very surprised to see his relatives who don’t stop him. They should know that here [in Chechnya] it won’t work.
Now, all sorts of [rights defenders, emphasis on the feminine in the original] keep coming here… keep coming to neighboring regions and from there they keep smearing our Chechnya, trying to provoke us.
Well, I will tell you how we are going to break the spine of our enemies. If we are way better than we are supposed to be then we will break their spine. If we do not do what we could have done… then we will break it too. And we can do it!
When we jail people who have killed our comrades human rights defenders say we have done the wrong thing. When my comrades are killed, those who worked with the authorities, who complied with every rule, so when they are killed or they [the killers] are captured with weapons in their hands while attempting to kill — they [human rights defenders] say that we supposedly cannot put them on trial. And their relatives [relatives of those caught] — what [the hell] is the difference if they shield their terrorist relatives, they are accomplices… They keep writing papers [complaints] that their people [terrorists] have been wrongfully detained. Then, we declare blood feud on them [terrorists’ families]. You say they were unlawfully detained? They have killed our comrades, we declare blood feud on you. They kill a rail-carriage-load of people and their relatives are not ashamed to shield their children. Such things may not happen in Chechnya…
We know best what our people, our Motherland need, no one else knows.
On Oyub Titiev (direct quotes)
They say police caught some junkie with weed… I have learned about on the Internet… So, everyone on earth cares about the Chechen people. UN cares, State Department cares… One single guy from Kurchaloi was detained and the State Department from America is calling for his release!
Do they know at all how many junkies we have caught here in Chechnya? Thousands were caught last year, we brought charges, sent them to jail, took preventive measures. We worked day and night, no one cared. And once we have caught their own junkie the whole world is up in arms.
Why do they ignore others’ rights?.. They are all junkies, they’re all the same!
Is it so impossible that he [Titiev] smokes [weed]? … We detain 60-70-year-olds who are drunk, who smoke weed and who sell weed… So what, we cannot detain that [Titiev]? Here [in Chechnya], we sure can!
On Zelimkhan Bakaev
[Parent] of their son, it’s shameful for them to refer to him as theirs, … [they] have failed to save her, and now [people say] Kadyrov has let them take [Bakaev], Kadyrov has taken…
Have you heard me giving the order, have you seen him detained, have you seen him jailed, have you got any single piece of evidence to say it like this? Have you heard me on TV ordering to seize him, or that police detained him?
The family failed to stop him [from doing whatever he was doing], then, he was called to come home [back to Chechnya from Moscow], and when he came, then, some other [relatives], probably various second, third cousins, may have confronted him, saying you are «that [thing]». And now, everyone says the Kadyrovs have done so and so.
Don’t they have a single man in their village, in their clan? They ought to have known what their guy was doing. They ought to have said it was we who had done it, he belongs to us, we bear responsibility for him — it’s as if there’re none [men left] there. They know perfectly well about their relative [his sexual orientation].
This Bakaev… The whole world has gone crazy over her… We keep telling everyone: watch out, go, listen, take care of your children. If you ask about faith — we have got a religious department for it. The authorities here are fully open to the public, more than anywhere else.