From the Reuters report on Vladimir Putin’s surprise visit to Grozny to stump for the increasingly embattled Chechen appointee Ramzan Kadyrov, and lay flowers at the grave of his father, former Chechen leader Akmad Kadyrov. Also see the comments posted to the government site – which makes me realize that Putin had not set foot in Chechnya since October 2008.
Surrounded by heavily armed guards in camouflage and with sub-machineguns at the ready, the two men laid a basket of red and white roses at the tombstone of Kadyrov’s father, Akhmad, who was killed in a bomb blast in 2004.
“It is thanks to this courageous man that the war ended. He gave his life for Russia and Chechnya,” a sombre Putin said, to a roar of helicopter gunships patrolling the area. (…)
“His life was not lived in vain and he died for a cause,” Putin said. “In fact, he saved … the lives of a great many people, because he laid a foundation for peace in Chechnya. We will remember him forever.”
Putin has taken a consistently tough line on secessionism — a sensitive issue in a country that spans 11 time zones from the Baltic Sea to the Pacific Ocean and embraces dozens of ethnic and religious groups.
A worker at Russia’s Memorial human rights watchdog,who had worked with Estemirova, told reporters on condition ofanonymity: “The situation in Chechnya now, the atmosphere, is simplywretched. It is just awful.”
“Putin gave Kadyrov ‘carteblanche’ to act in whatever way he wants. What is in fact happening isthis in turn creates new rebels, and creates militants, who arefighting for both sides”.