Grigory Pasko: The Dancing Ramzan


Out of all the regimes of the post-Soviet Republics, nobody seems to have made off with more money and power than Ramzan Kadyrov, the self-appointed czar of Chechnya. He’s feeling so happily secure that back in March he even bought himself the Brazilian national football team for a show.

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The football demonstration took place in Grozny, and Ramzan himself took over as Captain of the Chechen team, and amazingly twice scored against the great Brazilians despite the team losing the friendly match 4-6.  Then again, even North Korea’s Kim Jong Il has his own legend of hitting five hole-in-ones during his first trip to the golf course.

The holiday was a success – Ramzan even danced the lezghinka in public (in the photo).

In order to understand how much money (whose?) this show cost, it is enough to take a look at the list of the footballers invited to the show (in the capacity of artists?) : Vaghiz Khidiyatullin, Vladimir Beschastnykh, Ilghiz Fakhriyev and Ramiz Mamedov, as well as captain of the German national team Lothar Matthäus and Oliver Kahn, Carlos Dunga, André Cruz, Zé Mario, Roque Júnior, Romário, Bebeto, Cafu, Élbera, Zico, Denílson, Djalmina, Zetti, Raí.

Following the match, local newspapers gushed with reports of the flattering praise the Brazilians had for Kadyrov’s gameplay.  The Chechen media quoted the Brazilian players as saying that if Kadyrov had the time to train, his skills would improve dramatically from the backyard to the pro level.

It’s not a new idea to use sports marketing as a way to improve the personal political image of the kingpin and regional reputation of corrupt backwater.  In fact, it wouldn’t be surprising if the idea for the pricey invitation of the Brazilian superstars came from Putin himself.  (Given his penchant for judo stunts, flights, submarine voyages, and barechested manhood, I’m surprised we didn’t see the Prime Minister take to the pitch as a forward.)

The Brazilian newspaper Globoesporte was happy to report how the players were so well compensated for their trip to Chechnya. Thepublication quotes the footballer Romário, who participated in the Groznymatch. Romário supposedly admitted that he had gone to Chechnya onlybecause they had offered him a very convincing financial remuneration.”To be honest, I don’t understand at all what the objective of this gamewas“, he said.

It doesn’t take a genius to see what this whole event was all about:  the laundering of Ramzan’s dirty reputation with quite a nice bit of celebrity PR.  And whyshouldn’t he do this, if we take into account that the money, mostlikely, wasn’t from his own personal pocket anyway, but from thefederal budget of Russia, that is, from the pocket of the Russiantaxpayers.

It would all be fine and dandy, if we don’t take into account thefact that Chechnya is a heavily subsidized republic. Subsidies to Chechnyafrom the federal budget for the year 2010 – 52 bln rubles (with a sizeof the population (official) of 1.2 mln. pers). That gives an amount ofthe subsidy of 43 thsd rub per person per year.

If we compare with other subsidized regions of Russia, then thepicture is the following: the Republic of Tyva (Tuva) got in the year2010 a subsidy in an amount of 9.45 billion rubles.  The size of the population of Tuva comprises 314 thousand people. Insuch a manner the subsidy comprised 30,09 thsd. rub per person.

The Republic of Sakha-Yakutia with its diamonds, uranium, the companyALROSA and other wonders – for a population of 949.5 thousand got 42.4billion rubles in federal subsidies or 44.7 thousand rubles per person.

The Republic of Altai. Population 210,7 thousand persons. The sumof the subsidies from the budget comprises 6.766 bln rubles or 32.1 thsdper person per year.

The overall sum of financing from the federal budget of the regionsof the North-Caucasus federal district comprised nearly 160 bln rub.,not counting the all-state expenditures of the budget, a part of whichis likewise connected with the financing of the regions of the NCFD. Inso doing on average for the country the level of inter-budgetarytransfers comprises approximately 5 thsd. rub. per one inhabitant, inall — around 725 bln rub. In such a manner, 22% of all the fundsallocated by the federal center to the regions is spent on theNorth-Caucasus region, where just 6.3% of the population of Russia lives.

It is understandable that with such selectiveness (a kind of dividinginto privileged ones and into second-sort people) Ramzan Kadyrov canarrange filthy expensive shows for his own dearest self on a weeklybasis.  Have you ever wondered how Ramzan earns his keep; what he does to deserve all these bounties from the Russian taxpayer?

Apparently, he performs certain services. Maybe it’s just because he’s been declared “a hero” of the Russian Federation. And also he is a cavalier of the orders «For services to theFatherland» of the IV degree; of Courage; twice -medals «For excellencein the protection of public order»; medals «For services in theconducting of the All-Russian census of the population»; holder of theCertificate of Honor of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly; cavalierof the order named after Akhmat Kadyrov; holder of the medal «Defenderof the Chechen Republic»… And so on, ad infinitum. Hero of thenation, hero of Ichkeria, holder of the Diamond order, laureate ofprizes, honorary citizen, honorary elder, merited builder, veteran ofAfghanistan, honorary member of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences,general…

Name me one other like this on the Russian land? How can you not give someone like this a bunch of money from the budget?

And if we also take into account Ramzan’s main title, then absolutelyeverything will fall into place: he – is a friend of VladimirVladimirovich Putin. (No, really, I mean a real friend. Much more so than Gennady Timchenko, who recently had to deny being friends with Putin in court).

So in the eyes of our twisted broken system, Ramzan will keep on dancing (our money) away. I sure hope the shows he provides continue to be worth it.