Saturday, June 17, 2006
From Prague Watchdog:
Following is a programme broadcast by Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty's North Caucasus Service on June 14, 2006. For more programmes see http://www.watchdog.cz/rferl (in Russian only).
100 days of Ramzan Kadyrov’s premiership celebrated in Grozny
Presenter Ruslan Shamayev: The city of Grozny has witnessed the celebration of 100 days of Ramzan Kadyrov as head of the government of Chechnya. Several thousand members of Kadyrov’s fan club marched through the centre of the city in multicoloured T-shirts, praising their idol. However, many of them not were not quite sure why they had come here. Akhmed Sultanov reports from Grozny.
Akhmed Sultanov: It looks as though it can now be said that Ramzan Kadyrov holds the post of prime minister by the will of the people. When he became premier he promised to leave the post after 100 days if he hadn’t achieved any results. This period went under the name "100 Days - 100 Deeds”. The latest SMS poll conducted on local television on Tuesday evening is a vivid demonstration of this. According to the poll organizers, 170,000 residents of Chechnya are satisfied with Kadyrov’s performance. Only 95 people sent negative messages.
On Wednesday the main events of the celebration took place. Thousands of young people dressed in green, red and white T-shirts with Kadyrov’s photograph on them began their demonstration from Peoples’ Friendship Square, moving along Victory Prospect, and on reaching the top of Kadyrov Prospect they stopped in front of the Akhmad Kadyrov monument, where the events were held. These were members of the Ramzan Kadyrov fan club.
Before the demonstration began, the Kadyrov fans crowded in the shade of the trees beside Peoples’ Friendship Square. They were all in high spirits - laughter and jokes could be heard. However, few of them seemed to know why they had come here. This is what one of the young people said:
Kadyrov fan: Ramzan has called us together. Apparently it’s Students’ Day or something. I don’t really know anything about it. They got us together and told us there’d be dancing, a concert.
Akhmed Sultanov: Some of the fans tried to give more mature answers, but friends interrupted them with their jokes:
Kadyrov fan 2: If events like this were held more often, everything would be okay... If the students of the sports faculty all got united, everything would be okay.
Akhmed Sultanov: With a deep sigh, a female student attempted to give an answer to my question, but was thrown into confusion on discovering that she would have to speak Chechen.
Female Kadyrov fan: We’ve come here today to support... in Chechen? No, you’ve got be kidding, I can’t say it in Chechen. You’d better ask somebody else.
But another female student, who did speak Chechen through an ironic smile, told me why she was on the demonstration.
Female Kadyrov fan 2: Everyone’s here, so I am too. They told us we’ve to show our support, and that’s why they’ve got us together. Everyone went running, and so did I. That’s how we ended up here. Young people like these new changes, and the mood’s an expression of that.
Akhmed Sultanov: Then the teachers gathered all the students together. They began their march from this square. Victory Prospect was closed to motor traffic. Chechen police were stationed every 5 metres along the route. On the adjoining streets, almost invisible to the demonstrators, Russian soldiers were deployed, ready for any emergency situation.
The main events took place in front of the Akhmad Kadyrov monument. There, too, there were many officers of the various law enforcement agencies. Looking bored, they were awaiting the appearance of Ramzan Kadyrov, who with his government colleagues had set off to open restored buildings, of which there are indeed many. There’s the House of Fashion building on Victory Prospect, and the dual carriageway on Mayakovsky Street, and the school in Gudermessky district, and a large number of other places. The Chechen parliament has also greatly appreciated the work of the government under Ramzan Kadyrov.
Akhmed Sultanov, Radio Liberty, Chechnya
Not all participants enthusiastic about the celebration
Ruslan Shamayev: Another Radio Liberty correspondent, Usman Khasimikov, followed the events in Grozny. He also talked to some of those who were taking part in the celebration.
Usman Khasimikov: Many discussions and meetings have been devoted to Kadyrov’s work in the post of head of Chechnya’s government. And invariably there has been talk of the successes and positive changes in the republic. Everyone already knows what will be talked about at this celebration. The residents of the republic have been putting two and two together.
Resident: Nearly all the people who are dealing with these questions are hangers-on of Ramzan Kadyrov. When Dukhvakha [Abdurakhmanov], the head of the parliament, was a minister he was okay, but when he became parliament head he began to fawn on Kadyrov. This humiliates the Chechen people in the eyes of others. There’s no change for the better in our lives to speak of. Ramzan Kadyrov is just building a house on sand. It all reminds you of a lonely woman putting on makeup in the hope of attracting somebody. They’re humiliating our people deliberately in order to show that we’re not worth anything.
Usman Khasmikov: T-shirts and flags with portraits of Kadyrov and the slogan "Keep it up!" were on sale in Grozny today. Sporting events were held throughout the districts of Chechnya in honour of this day. Nadterechny district was not left out - there the winners were rewarded with gold watches and valuable prizes.
Usman Khasimikov, Radio Liberty, Chechnya.
The transcript, and its translation into Russian, were made jointly by Prague Watchdog and Radio Liberty. English translation by David McDuff.