For today’s story, I have a post from a Russian blogger named Ilya Varlamov, he recently travelled to Chechnya and has been blogging about his impressions of the capital city Grozny. This post was picked up by the newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda, which is where I saw it. Ideologically Varlamov should be pegged (conceding that it is not really polite to “peg” people) as a “Moderate Kreakl”. “Kreakl” being a Russian idiom coined by Famous Dissident Lev Natanovich Sharansky, the word is an amalgam of “Creative Class” and denotes, in Sharansky’s view, the crème de la crème of the Russian non-systemic political and creative intelligentsia.
Varlamov’s pieces sometimes appear on the Oppositionist radio station “Ekho Moskvy”, although Varlamov notes that he regards the politics of Ekho’s audience as “too aggressive”. Which is why I qualify him as a “Moderate” Kreakl. Sort of the analogy of a “Moderate Rebel” in Syria.
Friends Begged Him Not to Go
Varlamov reports that when his friends learned he was planning a trip to Chechnya, some of them begged him not to go: He will be killed, his body tossed into a pit, etc.
Others asked him sarcastically how much Kadyrov was paying him to do a selfie with the “Great Leader”, while expressing his support. He will drive home in a Porsche Cayenne.
Some other friends riffed on: “Are you going there to apologize?” Alluding to this backstory: Recently Chechen Leader Ramzan Kadyrov shot his mouth off, accusing Russian “non-systemic Opposition” (types like Navalny) of being “enemies of the people”. This utterance sparked a media blitz. A Russian politician named Konstantin Senchenko lashed out against Kadyrov on his Facebook. Soon thereafter, Senchenko issued a grovelling apology to Kadyrov. Implication being, that he was threatened. Meanwhile, Kadyrov’s supporter held a mass meeting in Grozny to express confidence in their leader.
Varlamov decided to visit Chechnya and see things for himself, while all this stuff was going on.
Some Random Utterances
This particular blogpost simply consists of quotes which Varlamov wrote down, they are actual utterances of actual Chechens that he encountered in the capital city of Grozny. The utterances belong to different people and are in no particular order. Varlamov simply wrote them down, and I simply translate them into workable English. In some cases, where context is needed, I include a link with the quote.
“Don’t laugh at our streets paved with gold. We lived under your bombings for 10 years. Now we walk on streets paved with gold. We earned the right!”
“I won’t go to the meeting. Why do I need to show my support for Ramzan? Is he weak, or something? It didn’t look to me like anybody has offended him.”
“It’s very safe here. I can leave my car running and nobody will approach it. Nowhere else in Russia could you make that claim.”
“Why are you (people) so focused on Chechnya, on Kadyrov? Everything is okay here, please mind your own business.”
“If a woman wants to work in a normal job, she has to cover her head with a scarf. She won’t be able to make a career for herself with uncovered head.”
“I don’t like these meetings. I am a single woman, I don’t like to hang out in crowds. I’ll tell you straight out: Live your life honorably, and there will be no need for meetings and crowds.”
“It is written in the Koran that America will be submerged in water. That’s why they are trying to come to us – they need our land.”
“It is said that our entire people is being judged, just because of a few punks. If some Chechen goes to Moscow and acts up, then you twist this right away. Here, people aren’t allowed to act up, but there you permit it. I have a son who is a (college) student in Moscow. What is he doing there, how is he behaving himself? I don’t know. I just pray that he doesn’t do something to shame me in front of people.”
“Can you give me change for 1000 (rubles) in hundred (ruble bills)? No, 500 (ruble bills) don’t work, this is for the kids to hand out at a wedding, 500’s are too much these days, those days are gone forever.”
“What is bad here, you ask? Nothing is bad here, everything is good.”
“Nobody is feeding Chechens. A Chechen does not need to be fed. You are only restoring that, which you destroyed.”
“I don’t understand why people are meeting to support Ramzan. Why would he need our support? Putin supports him. He doesn’t need us.”
“Nobody is offending Ramzan. He wouldn’t even be able to tell you himself, who might be offending him.”
“Why do Russians call us ‘black asses’ (черножопые – ‘cherno-zhopy’), we’re actually whiter than Russians. They call us that because they are ignorant. A real Chechen has fair skin and blue eyes.”
“Nobody herded us to the meeting. We went of our own free will. Why? I don’t know. Our people are like that: It isn’t necessary to ask us or force us to do things. We just feel what is right, what we have to do, and we do it.”
“Ramzan is the type of guy – if he sees garbage lying on the street, then he will fire the Prefect [Ward boss]. For that reason, wherever Ramzan drives, there is an ideal cleanliness. But just turn into a nearby street, and you’ll see the dirt and garbage. It’s like: You washed your face, but not your neck? Is that how it goes? Why do we have to have this facade?”
“Hey, why are you hanging around, are you afraid to leave your Priora untended, your chassis is only worth 2 rubles, so don’t worry!”
“When a Chechen is in the wrong, or conducts himself badly, then either Ramzan or Ramzan’s people will resolve the issue. It doesn’t matter whether (the incident) occurs in Moscow, in Grozny, or in another country. I own a business in Moscow, whenever I do something or speak up somewhere, I always have in the back of my mind, how Ramzan will react to this.”
“Ramzanchik – he’s a good guy! He doesn’t beat us, he feeds us our 3 square meals per day, everything is great. In my time I have personally endured a lot on my own skin, everything is much better now. The main thing, is that people are being fed. If it weren’t for Ramzanchik, our lives would be quite horrible now.”
“People say that Ramzan owns a zoo right within his own home. He has lions, tigers, various fishes. People are constantly giving him animals. But they say he doesn’t like monkeys. Someone gave him a monkey once, and he immediately fed it to his lions.”
“I don’t know who this Yashin is, but if the people are against him, that means he’s a bad guy. If people say bad things about somebody, there has to be a reason. Therefore, Yashin is a bad guy.”
“I don’t know much about politics and I don’t follow, who says what. Why did you come here? I just had to ask.”
“Oho! Is that a wig, or your real hair? Can I touch it?”