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‘Spitting in the face of the law’ Russian officials and public figures respond to the video of Kadyrov’s son beating a detained man

Source: Meduza
Ramzan Kadyrov’s Telegram channel

Head of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov posted a short video of his 15-year-old son Adam beating Nikita Zhuravel, a 19-year-old resident of Volgograd who was arrested for burning the Quran, while he is being held in a punishment cell in Grozny. The Chechen leader said that he’s “undoubtedly” proud of his son. Kadyrov’s associates supported his son’s actions, while human rights advocates condemned them. Russian officials remained mostly silent on the matter. Here’s what some of Russia’s human rights officials, advocates, and public figures had to say.

Tatyana Moskalkova

Russia’s Human Rights Commissioner

Destruction of a sacred book, whether it’s the Quran, the Bible, or the Torah, is a socially dangerous act, offending the feelings of religious believers. These actions sew inter-ethnic discord, intolerance, and hostility. That’s why they can’t go unpunished. However, no matter how scary the crime a person commits, he must answer for it in court. Such are the principles of our rule of law. And he should certainly be held in a pre-trial detention center during the investigation, in accordance with the law.

Valery Fadeyev

Chairman of Russia's Human Rights Council

I was told about the video. Firstly, I think burning the Quran is, without a doubt, a serious crime. It’s a serious provocation, it’s unacceptable in our multi-religious country. This crime must be punishable by law. Secondly, there are rules for the detention of those accused, and of suspects. These rules must be adhered to. Thirdly, I think the court will give a fair judgment to the accused for burning the Quran.

Dmitry Peskov

Kremlin spokesman

I’ll tell you right away that I won’t comment on the story about Kadyrov’s son. I don’t want to.

Eva Merkacheva

Member of Russia’s Presidential Human Rights Council

I am sending an immediate request now, I believe we now have video evidence of the crime. No one is disputing this fact. There’s now a video where the identity of the person who’s committing the crime is clear. I believe the investigation should take appropriate measures. I’m preparing an inquiry. I will write one more inquiry demanding Nikita Zhuravel be removed. […]

In fact, this is a challenge to Russia’s whole legal system. They have shown that they can commit crimes and nothing will happen to them. If not for Ramzan Kadyrov posting concrete evidence of the crime, then public figures would not have started to say that yes, this was done by this person, with this last name, essentially acting as a witness. It’s a challenge. And then there will be another one and then another one. And I’m afraid it will be even scarier.

Marina Akhmedova

Member of Russia’s Presidential Human Rights Council

While I’m grateful for all Kadyrov’s help with the SVO, I don’t agree with beating a person who’s in a deliberately defenseless state, I’m completely against this. Kadyrov posted a video of his son beating a person who burned the Quran. What right does he have to do this, to break the law? We are not medieval feudal lords, no type of offending the feelings of believers warrants breaking the law. The court decides the punishment for that person. Not Kadyrov’s son. And for the son himself, it’s somehow not right to take advantage of a man who can’t strike back. That shouldn’t happen.

Vladimir Ryakhovsky

Member of Russia’s Presidential Human Rights Council

This is just lawlessness, just impunity, confidence that they’re special and that any punishment won’t apply to them. There are many questions. First of all, how could [Kadyrov's] son get into the pre-trial detention center, on what grounds, when even those who have the right to a meeting, like lawyers, wait for hours, are searched and checked in order to see their client. It’s unclear how this person got there. I’m not even talking about the fact that there’s a clear violation of the law. I believe that law enforcement agencies should respond here.

Vladislav Davankov

Deputy Speaker of the State Duma

In regard to the case of beating the person detained in Chechnya. Our country is large and diverse, but the law must apply to everyone. The law on protecting the feelings of religious believers doesn’t say anything about beating people in a pre-trial detention center as an acceptable punishment. Performatively burning a holy book is idiotic at best and deliberate hate speech at worst. But the court must have the final say. As they say, dura lex, sed lex. The law is harsh, but it’s the law. Vigilante justice will not be tolerated. A very bad example for young people.

Adam Delimkhanov

State Duma Deputy from Chechnya

Without a doubt, I believe my DEAR NEPHEW’S actions to be right and just! He acted like a real man and a worthy SON of his people! There is nothing more important and sacred for a Chechen than their religion. It’s very nice that despite ADAM’S young age, he is a worthy example for his peers, demonstrating a sincere commitment to protecting our beliefs and values.

Ahmed Dudaev

Minister of the Chechen Republic for National Policy, Foreign Relations, Press and Information

No one waives or evades the punishment provided by law. That includes Adam Kadyrov. He is a citizen of the Russian Federation. But burning the sacred Quran and infringing on the religious sensibilities of over 30 million Muslims in Russia and billions of Muslims around the world is the most blasphemous crime that must be properly punished. This ideological component is what distinguishes us from the satanic West. Good job Adam! We are proud of you!

Ksenia Sobchak

Russian media figure

This is hell. This is the head of a republic. It’s disrespectful to our country’s law. Adam Kadyrov’s actions must be investigated, he must be given a legal assessment in accordance with the CRIMINAL CODE OF RUSSIA, and not Sharia law or [the law] of Ramzan Kadyrov. This young man must not get away with this, how much more can you mock all of Russia and openly spit in the face of the law enforcement system?

Team Navalny

The head of a Russian region’s son beats a prisoner on camera. And everyone (especially him and his father) are confident that nothing will happen to them for doing this. Arbitrary rule and unpunished violence. That’s the country Vladimir Putin has built.

Mikhail Khodorkovsky

Opposition figure and former oil tycoon

Kadyrov has no limits. Remember how a month ago there was news that he brought his 15-year-old son into the pre-trial detention center so that he would beat a defenseless person? Well, now he even posted a video of the beating. It’s a scary disgrace. […] Publishing the video of course shows that Kadyrov feels a sense of complete impunity. And that’s not just some kind of savagery, but a vivid demonstration of how a state collapses — when the father-governor blatantly breaks the law and boasts about it, and there’s no one to stop him.

Ivan Zhdanov

Director of the Anti-Corruption Foundation

Kadyrov posted a video showing his son beating a prisoner. The rule of law in action. But seriously, each time they’re hitting new levels of savagery.

Vladimir Osechkin

Founder of human-rights advocacy project

Adam Kadyrov brutally beat Nikita Zhuravel, who was arrested and is under investigation. We warned about the danger and lawlessness of the decision by the elderly [Alexander I.] Bastrykin to transfer the criminal case to Chechnya and to send the young man to Chechnyia’s Federal Penitentiary Service pre-trial detention center. Now, Ramzan Kadyrov himself is posting a video of his son committing a violent crime. Bastrykin and the Kadyrovs must be held responsible for these crimes and torture in a future Russia. But for now, the law does not apply in Russia and it’s all about the wretched and rotten “understandings” which the thieves and sadists have distorted to justify the evil they commit. This wickedness doesn’t have anything to do with protecting beliefs and religions, and the Kadyrovs’ actions cast a shadow over them.

Igor Kalyapin

Founder and former head of the Team Against Torture

This is yet another test of what Kadyrov is personally able to do. I’m probably even prepared to assume that [Kadyrov’s son] is actually outraged as a Muslim and feels offended by Nikita Zhuravel. But we have offended people who have to resort to the law, if anything, and other offended people can do just that — commit crimes to the best of their physical strength and because of their daddy’s connections. A criminal case should definitely be opened here. It appears to me that this person should be held criminally responsible for the beating at the very least. Obviously, this should be done by [Russia’s] Investigative Committee.

Dozor in Volgograd

Social movement in Volgograd

Dozor in Volgograd demands a criminal case be opened against the head of the Chechen republic’s son for beating Volgograd resident Nikita Zhuravel. Adam Kadyrov’s actions are a crime, and openly acknowledging it, posting a video, and cheers of approval from the region’s high-ranking figures is a challenge to Russian society. They are spitting in the face of the law right in front of our eyes. And they are giving a clear sign that any citizen of Russia can be taken away to Chechnya and can be judged by the fists of a bunch of privileged radicals.

Yevgeny Popov

Russian propagandist, host of 60 Minutes on state-owned television channel Russia-1

You can’t beat people. It’s illegal. The court, and the court alone, decides a criminal’s punishment.

Alexander Kots

Pro-Russian “war correspondent”

They are asking me to comment on the video of Kadyrov’s son. But the head of Russia’s Investigative Committee Alexander Bastrykin should be the one answering, whose decision it was to open the case against Zhuravel and transfer the investigation to Chechnya’s investigative department in connection with “numerous appeals from residents of the Chechen Republic with a request to recognize them as victims.” The Russian Justice Minister Konstantin Chuychenko also said that Zhuravel should serve his sentence in a region with a predominantly Muslim population, because “this will promote respect for religion and religious feelings of believers in our multi-ethnic and multi-religious country. In a state governed by the rule of law, crimes (which Zhuravel committed) are punished by imprisonment, not by beatings in the offices of a detention center.

More on Kadyrov

The Kadyrov conundrum How Chechnya’s ruler maintains power while feuding with Russia’s security apparatus and flirting with a revolutionary legacy

More on Kadyrov

The Kadyrov conundrum How Chechnya’s ruler maintains power while feuding with Russia’s security apparatus and flirting with a revolutionary legacy

Translation by Sasha Slobodov

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