A video posted online by Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov shows former Russian Prime Minister and opposition leader Mikhail Kasyanov apparently in the crosshairs of a scope sight.
In the video posted Monday on Kadyrov’s Instagram account and the Vkontakte social network, the sight is shown trained on Kasyanov as he talks to people in what the posting states is the French city of Strasbourg.
“Kasyanov came to Strasbourg to get cash for the Russian opposition,” said a message on Kadyrov’s Instagram with the video. “Those who don’t understand will get it.”
The last part of the message is also the title of an unreleased action film in which Kadyrov, 39, is to have a leading role, and to which he has referred in other online posts. The Chechen leader lashed out at Russia’s opposition on Jan. 12, saying opponents of President Vladimir Putin’s regime should be treated as “traitors” and “enemies of the people,” a Soviet-era phrase that could lead to execution of dissidents under the communist system.
Kadyrov’s actions may be seen as a “threat to kill a state or public figure,” Kasyanov said by phone from Moscow, adding that he’s taking it seriously and may contact police.
“I want to know: does Putin like this and, by not stopping Kadyrov, he’s encouraging him?” Kasyanov said. “Or is Kadyrov a particular case that Putin can’t do anything about?”
Kadyrov’s spokesman didn’t respond to calls seeking comment on the video. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to comment, saying that he doesn’t follow what Kadyrov posts on Instagram.
Putin praised Kadyrov as an effective leader, the Interfax news service reported last week. The Chechen ruler has grown increasingly vocal in his criticism of opposition activists as public confidence in the authorities has fallen amid a slump in oil prices that leaves Russia at risk of a second year of recession.
The video appeared as the anniversary approaches of the February 2015 murder of opposition politician Boris Nemtsov, a former deputy prime minister, who was gunned down near the Kremlin. The main suspect, Zaur Dadayev, was deputy head of an elite police unit loyal to Kadyrov, who’s denied involvement in the killing and said he’s willing to testify.
Kadyrov, a former separatist who switched sides, was chosen by Putin in 2007 to fight extremists in the North Caucasus. His criticism of opposition activists was regarded as unacceptable by 58 percent of Russians, while just 10 percent said they respect the Chechen ruler, according to a survey published last week by Moscow’s Levada Center polling company.