A massive rally support of the Kadyrov government in Grozny, the capital of Chechnya, was staged of January 22nd. The official estimate stated that a million people were in attendance. The real figure was probably much lower, and most were probably forced to show up, but there were a lot of people in the streets.
This is the second large demonstration in recent weeks and comes on the heels of much snarling and gnashing of Kadyrov teeth against Russian political opposition figures on social media. Pictures of the Chechen leader holding back snarling dogs, and promising to commit Putin’s critics to psychiatric hospitals where the ‘injections will be increased’ has been normal fare of late.
Perhaps this activity has been spun up per the Kremlin’s request. Perhaps Kadyrov is simply doing what he does best, keeping Chechnya under control for Moscow. Intimidation has been part of the Kremlin’s took kit for some time now. However, there seems possibly to be other driving currents under the surface.
Could Kadyrov be unhappy with some in the Kremlin who may be advocating a more liberal tone with the West to achieve relief of sanctions, that with along with the collapsing price of crude, have seriously weakened the Russian economy and therefore the regime’s hold on power?
Could he be sending a message to Moscow? The message being that the subsidies that Moscow pours into Chechnya should not be reduced as Moscow looks for ways to cut expenses with oil at $27?
It is interesting to note that one of the main recipients of the angry crowd’s wrath was Mikhail Khodorkovsky, whom they called a ‘faggot,’ the former oligarch that Putin released from prison ahead of the Sochi Olympics. It’s a given that Khodorkovsky is back on the Kremlin’s revenge list as he plots to overthrow Putin’s government from exile is Switzerland.
“We want to strongly oppose those who throw mud at the country, call for sanctions against Russia, and attempt to escalate tensions,” Husain Soltagereyev, the head of Chechnya’s Council of Trade Unions and the event’s organizer, told the state-run TASS news agency, reported Radio Free Europe.
Several prominent Putin supporters traveled from Moscow to attend the rally, including State Duma lawmaker Adam Delimkhanov, who is from Chechnya, and nationalist biker Aleksandr Zaldostanov, a staunch Putin supporter who is known as “The Surgeon.”
“A very deep bow to the leader of the Chechen Republic Ramzan Kadyrov for his honesty and straightforwardness,” Zaldostanov he told the crowd. “We can only answer the enemies if we stand united, united with the Russian president.”
The presence of Putin supporters who traveled from Moscow makes it likely that the event had Kremlin support. Or perhaps they were there to remind Kadyrov who he works for.
In any event, as the economic screws tighten on Russian government officials, it will be interesting to watch where that pressure is released. As the pie of oil money shrinks and insiders jockey for position, there will be winners and losers. It’s just a matter of time.