Kadyrov’s gambit: deciphering the antics of Chechnya’s leader

Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov (L) and his chief of staff, Magomed Daudov (R), have launched a bizarre social media campaign as the end of Kadyrov's term nears (source: dpa)
Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov (L) and his chief of staff, Magomed Daudov (R), have launched a bizarre social media campaign as the end of Kadyrov's term nears (source: dpa)

As Russia sinks deeper into economic crisis, the political games being played in that country have become increasingly alarming and difficult to interpret. The latest is a series of pointed threats against the political opposition, issued by Ramzan Kadyrov, the hardline leader of Chechnya. What is Mr. Kadyrov playing at, what does he hope to gain, and why does the Kremlin seem to be going along?

On January 12, 2016, Mr. Kadyrov branded members of Russia’s liberal opposition “traitors” and “enemies of the people.” The latter term harks back to the days of Stalin, when being called an enemy of the people (<i>vrag naroda</i>) was tantamount to imminent execution. It was the f...

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