Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov said in a TV interview today he was ready to step down. Should Ramzan Kadyrov resign, the Kremlin would choose his successor.
Kadyrov is known especially for his virulent homophobia, and the anti-gay purges that have plagued Chechnya this year.
Will Ramzan Kadyrov resign?
Early this morning, Kadryov sat down with the nationwide TV channel Rossiya 1. When the reporter asked if Kadyrov was prepared to resign, he said:
It is possible to say that it is my dream. Once there was a need for people like me to fight, to put things in order. Now we have order and prosperity … and time has come for changes in the Chechen Republic.
The reporter also asked who he’d like to see as his successor, but Kadyrov dodged the question:
This is the prerogative of the state leadership. If I am asked … there are several people who are 100 percent capable of carrying out these duties at the highest level.
Kadyrov has ruled Chechnya since 2007. Last year, Russian President Vladimir Putin endorsed Kadyrov to continue in the position.
Putin himself has an election coming up in March. Putin’s expected to announce his candidacy for his fourth term. Most experts expect him to win in a landslide, however some say his opponents may exploit his connections with Kadyrov during the campaign.
In today’s interview, Kadyrov repeated his love of Putin, his “idol.” He said, “I am ready to die for him, to fulfill any order.” Kadyrov has been accused of being involved with the murder of Putin opponent Boris Nemtsov in 2015, however he denies any Chechen involvement.
Under Kadyrov’s rule, a number of LGBTQ individuals have been murdered. Last July, a report came out with the names of 28 men, several of whom were teenagers, believed to be killed. Last month, it was reported that gay Russian pop singer Zelimkhan Bakaev was murdered in the purges.
While it could be a good thing for Kadyrov to resign, given Russia’s homophobic climate, it’s unlikely a potential successor will do much to improve relations with the LGBTQ community.
So far, over 70 LGBTQ men have been evacuated from Chechnya. Hornet has helped with these efforts, broadcasting messages to men in the area and raising funds for the Russian LGBT Network.
We also drafted a “Know Your Rights” fact sheet in Russian and Chechen, which was then distributed to men in the region. It provided helpful travel tips when crossing international borders, statistics (and a map) of criminalized homosexuality around the world and how someone can report human rights violations against themselves.