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MOSCOW, October 13. /TASS/. The personality of Chechnya’s head, Ramzan Kadyrov, who turned 38 just recently, has been enjoying unflagging attention for the past decade in Russia and elsewhere. Experts attribute Kadyrov’s popularity to many factors, largely to his ability to identify modern trends and retain political flexibility.
The latest event that made Kadyrov the talk of the town is that he has been awarded a black belt in karate. He broke the news himself by leaving a brief comment in Instagram. “In accordance with a decision by the president of the International Karate Organization Kyokushinkaikan, legendary Shokei Matsui, I have been awarded the black belt - 5th dan,” Kadyrov said in the social network.
Last summer Kadyrov received the public award Order of Kindness, and also the medal For the Liberation of Crimea. He was very active in his support for the peninsula’s unification with Russia and Moscow’s stance over the Ukrainian crisis.
Many show-business stars can envy Kadyrov’s heavy presence in the Russian media space. In September 2014 he ranked first among the most-quoted bloggers. Kadyrov has profiles in Instagram and Twitter with a readership of 537,000 and 99,000 respectively. He remains at the top of Internet ratings of the most popular regional officials and is invariably present in the top three of the most influential regional heads the Agency of Political and Economic Communications Publishes on the monthly basis.
Ramzan Kadyrov is son of the first president of the Chechen Republic, Akhmat Kadyrov. Kadyrov Jr., who was fighting against Russian troops during the first Chechen war, has the suppression of terrorist insurgency and restoration of peace to the republic to his credit. He personally managed the large-scale restoration of the capital city - Grozny, and of Chechnya’s infrastructures - all done on money donated from the federal budget. Kadyrov has often been criticized by human rights campaigners for what they argued was authoritarian methods of government and human rights violations.
Chechnya’s Islamization is a distinguishing feature of Kadyrov’s rule. He is an advocate of Chechnya’s traditional branch of Islam - Sufism - and wages an uncompromising struggle against Islamic radicalism (Salafism).
“Ramzan Kadyrov is the only republican leader who is in full control of the law enforcement agencies in his territory,” says human rights activist Yekaterina Sokiryanskaya. “This is a quite remarkable project of Chechen statehood inside Russia. This project is based on a very special blend of ideology - of Chechen nationalism and traditional Islam.”
“The personality of Kadyrov is highly controversial but is invariably of great interest,” says the deputy director of the Political Technologies Center, Alexey Makarkin. “He senses the current trends very well, including the fashion for the Internet. A North Caucasus-born strongman, who just recently was going around with an automatic rifle in hand, now all of a sudden appears in the world web with blogs of his own... It works!”
Kadyrov’s special status among the regional leaders of the North Caucasus, Makarkin says, is largely due to the fact the federal authorities put a large stake in their efforts to restore restive Chechnya to normal first on his father, and then, when Akhmat Kadyrov was assassinated, on his son, Ramzan. “In response, Kadyrov offered his firm and active support for the federal authorities in its foreign and home policies. He is not an adventurist and he knows the rules of the game very well. Once in a while he tries to see how far he can go, the way it happened with the border dispute with Ingushetia, but as soon as he feels risks, he backtracks.”
In Chechen society the attitude to Kadyrov is mixed, says Makarkin, adding that he is a very flexible politician. “Although by virtue of the support he enjoys from the federal center he has practically no competitors, he seeks to integrate various interests, if he finds them serious enough. He takes care not only of the interests of his clan. He never makes the mistake of grabbing everything. His regime rests upon both the support from the central authorities and a very complex balance of interests of different forces.
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