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Chechen leader threatens local relatives of anti-Grozny protesters in Vienna

Demonstrators gathered this weekend in Vienna to protest against political repression in Chechnya. In response, the Russian republic's leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, has threatened to track down any relatives of the protesters still living in Chechnya and pressure them to “straighten out” their kin abroad. 

“We have certain customs: a brother answers for his own brother. I've ordered [state officials] to find out if [these protesters] have a brother, a father, or some kind of clan affiliation. Why do they permit themselves to speak out against the republic's leadership and the people? Don't they know we'll respond with every available resource—the law, our traditions, our religion. We'll start by telling (their family members) that they should sort out their relatives. If they don't hop to, then we'll demand it,” Kadyrov said in a press conference on December 28.

A recording of Kadyrov's speech was aired on Chechen television on December 30.

The demonstration in Vienna took place on December 24. Protesters spoke out against political repressions targeting citizens in Chechnya who have criticized the republic's government.

Earlier in December, Aishat Inaeva, a woman living in Chechnya, wrote a public letter to Kadyrov, criticizing the government for forcibly collecting housing and utilities payments. Kadyrov had Inaeva brought to him in person, where he pressured her into recanting her words.

On December 20, another person living in Chechnya, Adam Dikayev, was punished for publicly criticizing Ramzan Kadyrov. Video appeared online featuring Dikayev walking on a treadmill without any pants, explaining that he was wrong to disparage the government, and that he'd been “found” and taught the wrong of his ways. “From now on,” Dikayev says in the video, “Putin is my father, my grandfather, and my tsar.”

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