Staunton, January 25 – Few have been willing to recognize that the mass meeting in Grozny on Friday all of its pro-Putin verbiage notwithstanding was nothing other than “a Chechen Maidan,” an event that represents an even greater challenge and threat to the Moscow authorities than to the members of the Russian opposition, according to Aleksandr Gorny.
Gorny, a Crimean blogger, says that he personally has reached that conclusion on the basis of his own experience in the Ukrainian Maidan and in a commentary on Ekho Moskvy outlines both his reasons for that and the implications of that for Vladimir Putin and his regime (echo.msk.ru/blog/amountain/1700138-echo/).
The people “came out to support their leader with slogans, the meaning of which few understood just as they did not know the people from ‘the fifth column.’” But that wasn’t important for Kadyrov or for Putin, Gorny says, because Chechens genuinely support Kadyrov for his ability to extract money from Moscow.
By holding this meeting, Kadyrov showed that he could do exactly that and thus rocket himself into “the Russian political Olympus.” The Russian politicians from United Russia who supported his action were simply foolish and “their ratings should fall to zero” because they clearly did not understand what was at stake, Gorny continues.
He says that there was no reaction from Putin who clearly “understands perfectly the reason behind this Chechen Maidan.” This was not a meeting in support of him, although his name was invoked. The meeting showed what Kadyrov can do and what the Kremlin can’t: Kadyrov can get a million people to come out; Kremlin aides can only dream of doing that.
There will thus be some sort of reaction, Gorny says; but the question is open as to what it will be.
The Russian siloviki were also silent in public, he points out, although what they are likely saying among themselves can “hardly please Kadyrov and this must be understood.”
What was on view was “an imitation of patriotism,” not the real thing. That undoubtedly intimidated some liberals; but it also intimidated some in the regime who recognize that Kadyrov can do this and apparently get away with it. But “if Ramzan and his fighters are patriots,” they should be going to Syria to defend “our national interests” and “save the world from terrorism.”
Or they should be developing Chechnya so that it can stand on its own two feet rather than having to rely on Moscow’s aid. “But alas, it is simpler to make oneself out to be a patriot and to talk about supporting the President than to do something concrete for the country and develop the real economy of one’s own region.”
One can certainly say that Kadyrov is “a patriot of Chechnya.” But there isn’t reason on view to call him a patriot of Russia – or at least someone who is prepared to be patriotic without being paid.