‘Traitors, gossips, and schizophrenics’ Transcript: Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov says spreading rumors online should be punishable by death
On November 5, the Chechen state television channel Grozny broadcast Ramzan Kadyrov’s meeting with his government cabinet. Kadyrov spoke Chechen, and the network offered no translation into Russian. The BBC Russian Service drew attention to the event, pointing out that Chechnya’s head of state essentially advocated the murder and persecution of Internet users who “spread rumors.” The Putin administration has refused to comment on Kadyrov’s remarks, and the Chechen leader’s spokesman, Alvi Karimov, says the BBC mistranslated the speech (though he hasn’t offered an alternative translation). Meduza asked a native speaker of the Chechen language to review the BBC’s report (on condition of anonymity), and to translate the rest of Kadyrov’s comments about the Internet. This translation (translated again into English) is published below with minor edits.
Meduza’s translator emphasizes that there was no context in Kadyrov’s speech, as some have argued, that would have mitigated the severity of his statements or allowed competing interpretations.
And what do we want? It’s especially fashionable now online… That’s how we want it. Women and men are online, writing thousands of comments. They’re damaging their heads, ruining their vision, ruining their memory, harming their faith, and ruining this and that. They go online, and whatever doesn’t concern them… Whether or not they know Islam and Chechen ethics, they’re trying to blame me.
There are some people who get paid for this. There are Wazabis [sic] now doing this work of the Khawarij, who were against the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him salvation). They were doing the same thing back then: They fought and they spread rumors. And now, since they couldn’t win in war, what do they do? Gossip, lies, and slander.
[They] want someone to punish and someone to blame. Day and night, these nothings recite nonsense. The people behind this, they’re not men.
And then, on the Internet, so-called neighbors [Chechnya’s neighboring regions] are most interested in our issues. These are our internal issues, and who cares? It should concern the Chechens in the republic, the people. Shouldn’t it concern us? [But] they’re the ones actively commenting. Now hold on. Anything's possible. We’re not saints, we’re not prophets, and we’re not brothers-in-arms. We’re people, after all. We make mistakes, we get things wrong, and the Devil might tempt us. Anything happens. Sometimes somebody’s just unhealthy.
Those who violate the trust between people — who gossip and stage feuds… If we don’t stop them, killing, imprisoning, scaring them, then nothing will work. If the whole world is going to burn in a blue flame and the laws of all countries will be broken, are we really going to spare someone who offends honor? I swear by the holy Quran that we will not!
I will accept any punishment on Earth. So they throw [me] in prison. So they kill [me]. So one dies. I’m already 43 — what else am I supposed to do in this world? These people need to be identified. The Interior Ministry's regional departments, the intelligence agencies, and all youth organizations need to work together with the district and city heads.
Now everyone will say, “Ramzan told people to kill,” and whatever. [But] what is the law? The law, the Constitution, democracy — it’s the population’s well-being. And everything else is swindlers, traitors, gossips, and schizophrenics. They come in all shades, and we have to stop them.