About fears, foes and friends, Boris Nemtsov and fighting wars
- It’s been a long time since I recorded an interview in a gym. Most of my interviews are preferably at office desks…
- But it’s only me who is here for a sweat-drenching workout, so don’t worry. It’s OK with me. I’ll answer any question, any whatsoever.
Here we go!
- Do you like to make people scared?
- Whom do I frighten? Russia’s enemies: terrorists, extremists and their likes? Yes, such enemies should be afraid of me. Deathly afraid. They do know my stance is unwavering. Someone who harbors evil designs, who is plotting a terrorist attack, who is about to take the lives of innocent people must be neutralized before he has a chance to push the button. An individual like this must be apprehended and brought to justice. But, if they put up an armed confrontation, they should be done away with. Mankind has not devised another way of going about this business yet. Should my enemies be afraid of me? Yes! And they must not just feel fear. They ought to stay away from me as far as possible, at the other end of the world. They deserve no ceremonies. Their place is either behind bars or six feet under. May they choose which option suits them best. However, if they show up in Chechnya again, we’ll wipe them out, one by one, down to the last man.
Should my enemies be afraid of me? Yes!
- All this garbage about people being against Kadyrov just ticks me off. I’m with my people. Their concerns and worries are also mine. I dedicate my life to the people and the people love me. I’m a warrior, a defender. I took the oath and I serve the people. I’m prepared to give my life for them. Let my enemies be stricken with fear. As far as I’m concerned that’s fine.
- Let’s talk a little bit more about terminology then. Who are those people whom you call enemies?
- Above all, those who 20 years ago brought war to my land, who were killing the Chechen people, who were destroying our cities and villages, those who still refuse to acknowledge that they were defeated, that the people have made their choice.
What other enemies can there be? My enemies are the enemies of Russia and Chechnya.
- But in 1994 all that was officially called ‘restoration of constitutional order…'
- I’m telling you about terrorists from 51 countries who had come to Chechnya, and about traitors whose aim was to ruin Russia as a sovereign state, the shaitans (literally evil demons) inside the country who were dancing to the tune of the West, the Khodorkovskys, Berezovskys and others of their ilk.
What does constitutional order have to do with all that? Are you trying to tell me that Khattab and Basayev were restoring constitutional order?
They’re nothing but riffraff! Whoever’s left of the enemy forces is in now hiding, but we know who they are and what they are after.
- The Islamic State – are they enemies, too?
- But some of them are Chechens, aren’t they?
- Yes, there are Chechens. But it’s a drop in the bucket next to the hundreds of thousands of terrorists who have poured in from America, Asia, Europe, Africa and Australia… The Islamic State, a devilish, Iblis state, and also Al-Qaeda are both offspring of the same parents.
- Making sure that those defectors won’t return is essential, isn’t it?
- Nothing to worry about! They will not return. There’s no place for them in Chechnya any more. Be sure about that! America and Europe are dreaming of shaking our state loose with somebody else’s hands. If it were up to them, they would’ve undoubtedly turned all of Russia into another Aleppo. But it won’t happen. We won’t go down on our knees and we won’t starve to death! The sanctions are toothless. They picked the wrong opponent! Russia has a vast territory, thank God. The land is rich. As for the tests that we have to overcome, they will only make us stronger. The West will be asking us for help someday. I’m certain that this is bound to happen.
America and Europe are dreaming of shaking our state loose with somebody else’s hands
But today they are our enemies. So, I regard them as my enemies, too. As a citizen. But I don’t have any personal foes! I’m the most peaceful man in the whole world.
- Are you?
- I’ve always been this way, since my school days. I helped the weak and those who needed protection. In my class and on the streets. But I’ve never gone as far as open hostility toward anyone.
Yes, I did have a blood feud once. They’d been killing true sons of the Chechen people and sons of Russia – my friends, my own father – the first president of the Chechen Republic, Hero of Russia Akhmat-Hadji Kadyrov, a politician and religious figure of world acclaim …
None of them has stayed alive. All are gone. It was our duty. Gangsters and criminals understand no other language.
- Do you regard the non-systemic opposition as enemies?
- No. They are loudmouths, people who have no shame. They have no dignity, no conscience and no Motherland. All they want to keep doing on and on is to sell the interests of the state. For thirty pieces of silver.
- Are you referring to some particular persons?
- I wouldn’t like to mention any names. If I start blurting out names, I won’t be able to proceed with my workout routine. They’d make me feel nauseous. They are eagerly awaiting the moment when I’ll let one word slip. Then they will instantly fly into an uproar and they’ll jump at this opportunity to gain publicity. I’d rather keep quiet. Everybody knows them well enough anyway. Someday, the public will be chasing this riffraff from place to place like stray dogs. Even their relatives will turn their backs on them as a disgrace to the family name.
Putin knew that he had a vast, multi-ethnic and multi-religious Russia to rely on
Come on, what kind of opposition are they? On September 18, the people went to vote in the election. In the Chechen republic these chatterboxes received tiny fractions of a percentage point. They enjoy no credibility at all. What do people usually say in such cases? “You know where the exit is!”
The opposition has already messed up all it could. Now it’s played out… What’s the name of that place in Moscow where the demonstrators used to assemble? Bolotnaya Square, right?
They’d thought they would scare Vladimir Putin into giving up plans for another presidential term – the people are against it, don’t you see… It boomeranged. Putin knew that he had a vast, multi-ethnic and multi-religious Russia to rely on. He didn’t give his enemies the slightest chance of ruining the country. He moved on boldly, as usual, and we followed him.
Now it’s all over! There’s no one who would care to pay for Pussy Riot-like escapades and hand out grants to all sorts of marginal groups, like the one that drew an obscenity on the Liteyny Bridge in St. Petersburg. For me, all these individuals are enemies of Russia. They could enter a church and put on an obscene song and dance show… Had they ventured into a mosque, a double crime would’ve occurred. They would’ve been instantly torn to pieces…
There was certainly somebody behind all those provocations. But for who’s sake was all that done for? We all know it very well, but we keep silent. Nobody gives them money any more. This explains why they’ve gone quiet.
- But some have gone quiet forever. Boris Nemtsov, for instance.
- True, Boris is dead. I’ve already expressed my opinion on that score. I have nothing to add. I had had absolutely no connections to him…
- But was he an enemy of yours?
- No, Nemtsov has never been an enemy of mine, nor was he a friend, though.
Our paths never crossed. He made himself an enemy of Russia – my Russia. If only today’s Russia had these types of enemies! There was nobody or nothing behind him, just hot air. His cronies were perfectly aware that Nemtsov was of no use any more, so they thought they might try to kill two birds with one stone – by gunning down Nemtsov and eliminating Kadyrov.
But they failed to knock me out. I’m absolutely calm. I do not respond to lies and provocations. I tell them where to go in very certain terms and go on living a normal life.
- You had promised that you would report to the investigator who was looking into the Nemtsov murder and testify, but that that has not happened yet.
- I’m ready to do that any moment! Right away. I’d just change my clothes and take the first flight. But I’ve got to get an official subpoena to begin with.
- Nemtsov in 1996 tried to stop the Chechen war… He held a sign-up campaign to collect one million signatures and brought them to the Kremlin… You were on the opposite side of the frontline then, weren’t you?
- True, in the early 1990s many in Chechnya cherished independence.
Many believed what Dudayev, Udugov, Basayev and Maskhadov were telling them. They were ignorant all those types were guided by enemies, who wished to see Russia’s demise and who were using our people as cannon fodder.
Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev abandoned weapons warehouses in Chechnya to lure us into a trap… It took us a while to figure out what it was all about.
First we thought that we were warriors and that our calling was to defend our people. That’s the sort of ideology we had at that time.
- When did you realize that you were moving in the wrong direction?
- The Khasavyurt deal that Lebed and Maskhadov signed in August 1996 yielded no benefits. It was just a lull. My father and I and also Nadir Khachilayev had accompanied Lebed from Makhachkala to Novyie Atagi. We flew there by helicopter…
In the summer of 1999 the authorities of the then-Ichkeria violated the agreements. Basayev invaded Dagestan and a second military campaign began. It turned out to be very different and still more ferocious. My father rose in revolt against Maskhadov and Basayev. He said: “This is not jihad, but a betrayal of the laws of Islam.” It was a fundamental disagreement. They passed a death sentence on Akhmat-Hadji. We then went to war with the Wahhabis and the terrorists.
The Prophet (May Allah grant peace and honor upon Him!) said: the one who will be killing these dogs of hell will go to Paradise.
- And how many of them are to be killed to secure a place in the Heaven?
- We are discussing a very serious subject! We are talking about terrorists who shed the blood of thousands of women, the elderly and children…
- But have you counted them, those ‘dogs’?
- No. I was fighting against aliens from five dozen countries, who for some reason had come to Chechnya and who might had never heard about this land before. Career officers from western secret services constituted the backbone of those groups. They were killing my people.
- What about Russia’s federal forces? You were fighting against them too, weren’t you?
I’ve never ever told anybody that I was killing Russian soldiers
- I’ve never ever told anybody that I was killing Russian soldiers. I never said such things in full seriousness or in jest. I’ve never uttered such a phrase! These words are wrongly attributed to me. This rumor was propelled into the worldwide web on purpose. Those who are still repeating it know well that this is a flagrant lie. True, during the first military campaign I did carry weapons and I was with my people. I was too young and foolish then, but I was beside my father all the time. I recall the day when we took two prisoners of war (one of them had been serving on contract) away from the militants and handed them over to headquarters. In a sense, we saved them. Musa Dadayev, the agriculture minister in our government, too, is known to have rescued contract servicemen, who’d been captured by militants, and returned them to the federal forces. He said then: “We are not wild beasts. Treat them humanely. Let them go home and tell their mothers and wives that the Chechens are defending their land.”
Of course, you may think that Kadyrov is afraid of telling the truth – what if a public outcry follows. May I be cursed, if I am not telling you the cold hard facts! I have nothing to hide. Let me say once again, I was always by my father’s side. Next to him… As a mufti he saved the lives of numerous military servicemen.
- Why do you call Akhmat Kadyrov Chechnya’s first president? Before him, there had been Dudayev, Yandarbiyev, and Maskhadov… After all, the history of the Republic of Chechnya did not just begin in 2003?
- I was not the one who proposed that. It was the Kremlin’s idea. You may not remember, of course, but Russia annulled all decrees, resolutions, documents and ranks dating back to the Ichkeria period in Chechnya’s history. If Dudayev and Maskhadov were to be recognized as presidents, then Ichkeria would have to be recognized too, together with its ministers. Basayev, Khattab, Udugov and others would have to be recognized as legitimate politicians, but they were gangsters and terrorists. True, at a certain point, during the early period (of Chechnya’s recent history) I strongly supported Dudayev. I believe that even his son Johar Dudayev did not support him as strongly as I did back then. Remember, though, that was in the early 1990s.
But does it make any difference today who Chechnya’s first president was? Is this the yardstick to estimate one’s services to the nation? The people have already got used to it: Akhmat-Hadji was Chechnya’s first president. They refer to him this way. If I tried to change something, the public would not understand me.
- The central thoroughfare in the Chechen capital Grozny is named after Akhmat Kadyrov. So are the main mosque – the Heart of Chechnya - and the republic’s stadium – home to the Terek football team. There is a special museum dedicated to Akhmat-Hadji Kadyrov incorporating his office. And the newly-built mosque in Argun was named after your mother, Aimani. You are certainty a considerate son…
- I hope I am. What can be more precious than parents? Who can be closer? I’d have done a whole lot better in their honor, if I could. I removed the monument to my father, though. It was against our faith. Only his portraits and bas-reliefs at memorial sites are left.