Last Thursday, Anna Politkovskaya took part in Elena Rykovtseva’s programme “Press Time” on Radio Svoboda,. The occasion for the discussion was Yulia Latynina’s article in the newspaper “Kommersant”, which by coincidence was on Ramzan Kadyrov’s birthday (it was the same Thursday, 5 October).
Rykovtseva: ‘Here are some of her (Latynina’s – Novaya Gazeta’s note) assertions: “Ramzan Kadyrov is the only means to win in the partisan war”, “There’s no alternative to Kadyrov”, “Whether Kadyrov is bad or good, the fact is that the one he purged was no better”.’
The Radio Svoboda announcer more fully contradicted Latynina’s article, but the presenter Rykovtseva continued the programme: ‘In my opinion, Latynina concludes this whole passage in this way, to keep up the conventions: “And what about human rights? Well, ladies and gentlemen, there’s nothing left for us but to weep about human rights...” Well, in fact, where did you see them, these human rights? There’s more than enough to cry about here, not only about Chechnya. So that the most important assessment of Kadyrov, even so, is that he was bad, he became good, he was a wrecker, he became a builder. Now I’d like to receive my colleagues’ comments.’
Elena introduced these colleagues: ‘Moskovskii Komsomolets’ correspondent Vadim Rechkulov, independent journalist Sanobar Shermatova, ‘Vremya Novostei’ correspondent Ivan Sukhov, and Ana Politkovskaya, who was participating in the broadcast discussion via a telephone linkup.
We offer you some excerpts from this broadcast.
Anna Politkovskaya: What does it mean, ‘to cry about human rights?’ There’s no need to cry about human rights. It’s necessary simply to meet not only with Kadyrov, but also with people who suffered from Kadyrov’s actions. Not somehow hypothetically, but suffered in the most direct way. Their relatives were killed, tortured, forced to flee. Most of them were the most honest, decent people. I was acquainted with them.
And now there are two photographs on my desk. I’m going to make an investigation. These are tortures in Kadyrov’s torture chambers today and yesterday. These are people who were abducted for an absolutely unknown reason. This didn’t happen simply for PR purposes <...>
I want to say that these abducted people, whose photographs I have on my desk (one of them is a Russian, the other is a Chechen) were represented that way, as though they were fighters that the Kadyrovists had a battle with in the village of Aleroi. This is a well-known story, which appeared on our television screens, on radio, and on the pages of newspapers. When Kadyrov appeared against the background of defeated fighters and gave an interview in front of the cameras of state television and other channels, in fact, all these people had been rounded up, kidnapped, and murdered.
E. Rykovtseva: Anya, doesn’t it seem to you that against the present background, these people move over to the category of ‘collateral damage’? Yes, there is collateral damage in the form of people who are abducted, but on the other hand, how many did he benefit? He developed some construction projects. And it’s a small percentage of those who’ve suffered. It doesn’t happen to everyone.
A. Politkovskaya: A small percentage of those who suffered?
E. Rykovtseva: Yes. As it’s presented, it’s a small percentage.
A. Politkovskaya: I want to say that there were more abductions in the first half of this year than in the first half of last year, if there’s some kind of representative quality here. And this was only the people who reported the abduction of their family members. They were never found afterwards. I’d like to direct your attention to the fact that we can talk about collateral damage only because these aren’t our relatives, not my son, my brother, my husband. The photographs that I’m talking about are of bodies that were absolutely destroyed by torture. It’s impossible to dismiss it as a small percentage. It’s a huge percentage <...>
Journalists who don’t know this region say that he (Kadyrov – editor’s note) is reviving Chechen traditions. That’s all nonsense. He’s destroying them. I’m not an advocate of the institution of the blood feud, but the point is that for many years, of course, it maintained a kind of stability in this region. Ramzan interfered here in such a way that he destroyed it too <...>
He’s a coward, armed to the teeth, who sits surrounded by guards. I don’t think that he’ll become president. I have a kind of deep internal conviction, perhaps even intuitive – it’s not rational in any way, not confirmed by Alu Alkhunov. Alu Alkhanov’s a very weak man. In this, the problem of Alkhanov, and to a great extent also the increase in Kadyrov junior’s tyranny, is related to this. My personal dream on Kadyrov’s birthday is about only one thing. I’m speaking of this absolutely seriously. I dream that he’s sitting in the dock. And there would be the most rigorous legal proceedings, with the list of all the crimes, with an investigation of all his crimes.
By the way, according to three articles in our newspaper – of course other publications don’t write about this – criminal cases have been instituted against the Kadyrovists and personally against Kadyrov. I, for example, am involved in one of these cases as a witness. These are cases of abductions. In particular, one criminal case is specifically about an abduction – the complicity of Ramzan Akhmatovich Kadyrov in the abduction of two people. Therefore my dream is on this plane.
E. Rykovtseva: Thank you, Anya.
Translated from Russian by Agatha Haun and revised by Fausto Giudice, members of Tlaxcala, the network of translators for linguistic diversity. This translation is copyleft: it can be freely reproduced provided its author, translator, reviser and site of origin are cited. URL of this article : http://www.tlaxcala.es/pp.asp?reference=1358&lg=en