A Threat to National Security

“People in Russia Prefer not to talk about Kadyrov,” said Ilya Yashin, Deputy Chairman People’s Freedom Party (PARNAS), at the Atlantic Council on March 24, 2016. Mr. Yashin is seeking to break that taboo with his new report, “A Threat to National Security.” The report paints a terrifying portrait of the Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov and his totalitarian control of the small Caucasus region.

In his report, Mr. Yashin establishes the threat Ramzan Kadyrov poses to Russian national security. Speaking at the Atlantic Council, Mr. Yashin appealed to Russian patriots and leaders in the West to take seriously the threat posed by Kadyrov. “Kadyrov is fundamentally opposed to the West,” said Mr. Yahsin, and has orchestrated political assassinations outside of Russia, “the West has to stop believing that Kadyrov is not their problem.”

Kadyrov’s crimes are far more severe than the pilfering state coffers, which he does on an astounding scale. His involvement is implicated, and in some cases proven, in the assassinations of several individuals who criticized the Russian State or Kadyrov himself, the most notable of whom is Boris Nemtsov. Kadyrov has never faced charges.

“Putin has created a situation in the Northern Caucasus where there is absolutely no alternative to Kadyrov,” said Mr. Yashin. Yet, it would seem that even Putin is growing tired of his attack dog. Putin has failed to either endorse Kadyrov remaining as leader of Chechnya for another term, or to name Kadyrov’s successor—as is “Russian Tradition,” says Mr. Yashin.

The irony that Russian President Vladimir Putin created Kadyrov and now cannot control him was central to Mr. Yashin’s presentation. Functioning outside of Russian and international law, Kadyrov has placed Putin in a catch-22. Allowing Kadyrov to remain and to undermine Russian law will erode Putin’s control, removing him will likely result in renewed violence in the Caucasus.

Mr. Yashin himself has faced threats for publishing this report. In spite of these threats, he says, “No matter the danger, I will not stop.” For Mr. Yashin, breaking the taboo surrounding Kadyrov as a key step toward bringing change to Russia.

It is this political change Mr. Yashin most hopes to achieve; and a democratic Russia cannot exits as long as Kadyrov rules in Chechnya.

The event featured a keynote address by Mr. Yashin and a Q&A conversation with Alina Polyakova, Associate Director of the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center.