Kadyrov Calls Russian Political Opposition Enemies of the People

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov said opponents of President Vladimir Putin are using Russia’s economic downturn to undermine political stability and should be treated as enemies of the people, a Soviet-era accusation that once could lead to imprisonment or execution.

“Representatives of the so-called non-system opposition are trying to cash in on the complicated economic situation,” Kadyrov told reporters in the republic’s capital Grozny on Jan. 12, according to a statement on his website. “They should be treated as enemies of the people, as traitors. For them, nothing is sacred.”

In Russia, the term non-system opposition refers to actors outside the political establishment and registered parties. Kadyrov said such opponents should work with the state to seek ways out of the economic crisis, according to the statement.

The comments come less than a year after opposition politician Boris Nemtsov was gunned down in February near the Kremlin. The main suspect, Zaur Dadayev, was deputy head of an elite police unit loyal to Kadyrov, a former separatist whom Putin picked in 2007 to fight extremists in the North Caucasus. Kadyrov has denied involvement in the killing and said he’s willing to testify.

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