By Paul Goble
Ramzan Kadyrov’s organization of meetings in Chechnya to denounce the anti-Kadyrov emigration have backfired with ever more commentators on websites and telegram channels denouncing the sessions as shams, a development that suggests the Chechen leader is far more isolated from his nation than many believe.
Kadyrov clearly hoped that these events would suggest to the outside world that he represents the Chechens and that those in the republic oppose the actions of what he calls “the Euro-Icherkerians” (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2020/09/kadyrov-regime-orchestrates.html and doshdu.com/v-chechne-na-ocherednom-narodnom-shode-snova-prigrozili-ahmedu-zakaevu-i-vsem-evroichkerijcam/).
But the reaction of participants in social media and on various telegram channels suggest just the reverse. Those using these media say that the meetings were anything but the voice of the people. Instead, Kadyrov’s thuggish regime forced people to attend and forced them to say what he wanted (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/354263/).
Those who posted said that they “didn’t see any enthusiasm in the faces of the paritcipants of the meetings,” an indication that they were not just Chechens abroad but Chechens in the republic watching Grozny television, another reason to think that Kadyrov’s effort has had just the opposite effect he intended (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/354246/).
More than that, these expressions of Chechen opinion from within the republic show that support for Kadyrov, never all that high and maintained largely by force and bribes, may now be falling even further. If that is the case, Vladimir Putin may soon face a new problem in a place where the Kremlin leader thought he had no reason to worry.