09/07/2017, 11.54
RUSSIA

On Rohingya, Kadyrov draws battle lines against Putin

by Vladimir Rozanskij

The Chechen president counters Russian positions on the Islamic minority in Myanmar. Muslims protest in Moscow, while there is a law on unauthorized demonstrations. One million Muslims in Grozny.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - Chechen president Ramzan Kadyrov has sparked a heated debate with Vladimir Putin on the Rohingya issue. The controversy is testing the Russian President's recent expressions of appreciation to the Islamic community during the Kurban-Bayram Festival. These tensions also resulted in loud Muslim demonstrations against the government in Moscow (photo 1) and Grozny.

Kadyrov (Photo 2) had intervened in recent days against Putin's policy towards Myanmar, where a violent repression of the Rohingya minority is under way. The Chechen president, Putin's historic ally, published a video interview on Instagram, in which he says his positions are contrary to those of the Russian government. Vladimir Putin rebuked Kadyrov, reminding him that he has no official capacity to comment on foreign policy.

During the final press conference at the summit between the Brics countries in Xiamen, the Russian leader recalled that "regarding the views of Russian citizens on the foreign policy of the Russian state, every person has the right to have his own opinion. And this regardless of the role that he plays. Regional leaders are no exception to this rule. I assure you that there is no fringe represented by the leadership of Chechnya. "

Spurred on by the words of Kadyrov, hundreds of Muslims gathered in a spontaneous and unauthorized march in Moscow, protesting in front of the Myanmar embassy in oposition to the authorities and the Buddhist population of the country. On September 4, in the center of Chechnya Groznyj, about one million Muslims gathered to express their solidarity with the Rohingya Islamic minority (photo 3). It should be remembered that last March, Moscow had blocked a UN Security Council resolution in support of Muslims in Myanmar together with Beijing.

The Moscow protest made a deep impression on the population. To see groups of Muslims marching threateningly along the streets shouting "Allah Akbar!", seemed unpredictable given the recent peaceful celebrations of the feast of Eid-al-adha.

This year, public alert is particularly high in Russia in the face of unlicensed demonstrations, after the young peoples protest against opposition-inspired corruption, such as the Aleksej Naval'nyj movement. In recent months, the government has adopted a series of restrictive rules on public order and freedom of opinion, setting new limits, up to the law currently under discussion on the offense of "undesirable behavior against the state" to be punished with arrests and expulsions.

Kadyrov is capable of crushing the central government authority. He was imposed by Putin after the conflicts in the region, which marked the beginning of his first presidential mandate. His figure was a reflection of Moscow’s "iron fist " on every war and terrorist regurgitation in the hotbed of the Caucasuses. And Chechnya was indicated by Putin as the center of international terrorism, without the world's public opinion giving great credit to his words, only for them to later resurface after the events of 11 September 2001. With the demonstrations of these days, the Chechen republic again appears to be a dangerous shelter of radical Islam,  to which Russia had hoped to be immune.

In addition, since the end of the Soviet Union, the myth of the "Pcus treasure" persists. These are tales of huge sums of party funds hidden in Chechnya and never found again. On the basis of this probable legend, the Chechen leaders (or the "Chechen Mafia", according to some), hold a strong influence over the Moscow government. Kadyrov's unexpected uprising could announce the beginning of Putin's decline.

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