Chechen leader accused of mass torture and murder offers Donald Trump human rights advice: ‘End the mayhem’

Oliver Carroll

Chechnya’s gay-purging strongman Ramzan Kadyrov has made an unexpected foray into US politics by suggesting Donald Trump might have a thing or two to learn from him about human rights.

In a social media post published early on Tuesday morning, the controversial leader demanded American authorities “put an end” to “mayhem” and “illegal actions against citizens.”

“Police are lynching people right on the streets of American cities,” he wrote. “They are strangling citizens, beating them up, ramming them with cars.”

Mr Kadyrov called on international institutions and the United Nations to intervene to protect against “human rights violations ... and extrajudicial executions.”

The comments will have surprised many of Mr Kadyrov’s compatriots back home in Chechnya, the Islamic republic on Russia‘s southern border, where he has a long history of crushing dissent and systematic human rights violations.

The all-powerful leader is believed to be behind the killings of several prominent critics. They include the journalist Anna Politkovskaya, who was gunned down at her Moscow home in 2006, activist Natalya Estemirova​, abducted from her home in Chechnya in 2006, and opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, shot in the shadows of the Kremlin in 2015.

Some of the world’s toughest dictators can now legitimately use Minneapolis as the basis for demanding respect

Ekaterina Sokirianskaia, longtime observer of Chechnya

The Chechen leader has also been credibly linked to the abduction, torture and murder of LGBT+ people living in Chechnya in a series of “purges“ beginning in 2017. In an interview with HBO, Mr Kadyrov attempted to brush off the allegations by claiming “no such people” existed in Chechnya.

This no-nonsense style has been on display in recent weeks too. Erring on the stricter side of a Covid-19 lockdown, Mr Kadyrov first sent his feared security forces to patrol Chechen streets with sticks. Then, he suggested executing those who fail to self-isolate properly. In May, he appeared to succumb to the virus himself, though he doggedly refused to admit falling ill.

Ekaterina Sokirianskaia, director of the Conflict Analysis and Prevention Centre and an experienced observer of Chechnya, said US authorities had potentially opened themselves up to a charge of hypocrisy.

“Sadly, the situation in Minneapolis has deteriorated to such an extent that some of the world’s toughest dictators can now legitimately use it to demand respect from President Trump,” she said.

“If the US fails to deal with its domestic challenge in line with the high principles it promotes worldwide, the devaluation of human rights will be catastrophic.”

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