Ramzan Kadyrov, son of assassinated President Akhmad Kadyrov, has been the leader of Chechnya Republic for more than 12 years. The 41-year-old dictator has been criticized for gross human rights violations and his crackdown on dissent in the republic, which he insists is to bring stability.
He is labeled among "Predators of Press Freedom" for pressuring the media under his strict policies.
With horror stories about gay men being tortured and abused in concentration camps and activists and journalists either disappearing or being killed in the republic making headlines, BBC Reporter Sarah Rainsford recently approached the tyrannical leader during the official opening ceremony of Chechnya’s first ski resort and questioned him about the abuse allegations against him.
"You know who protects human rights here," Kadyrov said with a laugh, showing his contempt for such activists and insisting "not one person" in the republic commits human rights violations."That's all an invention by foreign agents who are paid a few kopecks," he continued. "So-called human rights activists make up all sorts of nonsense for money."
Kadyrov is both financially and politically backed by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Even though Putin and President Donald Trump share a cordial relationship, the U.S. has added Chechnya to its sanctions list.
"Let them work somewhere else!" Kadyrov continued, referring to human rights activist. "All those who defend human rights groups and the gays we supposedly have in the Chechen Republic are foreign agents.”
The president has previously denied the crackdown against LGBTQ community, claiming it was “impossible to persecute” those who don’t even exist. "They've sold out their country, their people, their religion!" Kadyrov exclaimed, according to the report.
However, he did not comment on the torture claims against him and his army.
Human Rights Center Memorial, the last human rights group in Chechnya, was recently investigating the disappearance of 27 people when the police reportedly found marijuana in the car of the organization's head, Oyub Titiyev, which led to his arrest. Titiyev was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Shortly after the detention, Titiyev wrote a letter to Putin, telling him about the work his team has been doing in digging up dirt against Kadyrov.
“A group of men went missing after being taken away by security forces. It's thought they were suspected of links to extremists — but there were no charges, so nobody knows,” the letter read, according to the BBC.
Oleg Orlov, a senior member of Memorial, said, "We tried to follow up with legal procedures but the relatives were threatened and terrified. Perhaps that's the work that annoyed the authorities."
"It's clear that after that anything could happen," Orlov added. "It's very dangerous to work in Chechnya now."
Other members of the activist group also reportedly received threats and their office was set on fire.
"With no human rights groups left, people will have no protection," Orlov warned. "Anything at all could be done to them and there would be no one to complain to. No one to tell."
The future of Memorial and other human rights activists, along with all the people suffering from the strict laws, is at stake, but Kadyrov and his cronies continue to deny all such claims as the rest of the world continues to watch in silence.
Thumbnail/Banner : REUTERS/Mikhail Klimentyev/Sputnik/Kremlin