The Kremlin says it will not investigate statements by Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of the North Caucasus region of Chechnya, that advocated killing, imprisoning, and intimidating those who assault the "honor” of other users on the Internet.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists in Moscow on November 7 that he did not hear Kadyrov's statements, adding that law enforcement must look into Kadyrov's remarks, not the Kremlin.
On November 5, a state-run television channel in Chechnya showed Kadyrov speaking to regional government members where he questioned how people can be expected to "restore" their honor after comments are published online.
"Those who bring discord between people with gossip or quarrels should be stopped. Unless we kill them, put them in prison, scare them, we'll get nowhere," Kadyrov said in the televised statement.
"Even if the whole world burns and it comes to breaking all the laws, how can we let a person go who's assaulted someone's honor? We won't let it go, I swear by the Holy Koran! I'll accept any punishment in this world if that's how I can restore my honor. I'll go to prison or accept death. You can kill me. What's the big deal?
"I'm 45 already. What else do I have to do in this world? But these people [online commentators] should be tracked down. Police, security services, youth organizations should cooperate with the heads of regions and cities. Everyone is going to be saying 'Ramzan ordered killings' and so on. But what is the law? Law, constitution, and democracy are literally the well-being of the people."
Answering a journalist’s question about whether Kadyrov's words will be probed, Peskov said, "No, they will not."
Rights activists say that Kadyrov rules through repressive measures and has created a climate of impunity for security forces in the region. They claim Kadyrov is ultimately responsible for abuses of political opponents by Chechen authorities that include kidnappings and forced disappearances, torture, and extrajudicial killings.
Kremlin critics say Moscow turns a blind eye to the alleged abuses and violations of the Russian Constitution by Kadyrov because it relies on the former rebel commander to control separatist sentiment and violence in Chechnya, the site of two devastating post-Soviet wars and an Islamist insurgency that spread to other mostly Muslim regions in the North Caucasus.