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On a highway leading from Chechnya to Dagestan there is a traffic light. It is always red. Every day thousands of cars have to drive through this 24/7 red light to pass from one region to another. This isn't a mistake, but a well-organised system. Look at the arc on the right 馃У

Nov 23, 2022 路 4:35 PM UTC

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This monumental arc marks a checkpoint leading to the Hosi Yurt (now Akhmat Yurt) - the native village of Kadyrov. Akhmat Yurt is guarded all around its perimeter, much like any of Putin's residences. Only the natives of a village are allowed in
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Honestly nowhere in Russia have I seen another place with such a concentrated aura of personal power. Security measures are really impressive: from the armed guard to the radio jammers. You can notice it when your mobile network stops working in a few kilometres from the village
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Ok, so why do they always keep the red light on this highway? Well, that's kinda obvious. Should a peasant driving on a highway get into an accident with a highborn who is driving from Akhmat Yurt, it's the peasant who will be guilty. It's *you* who drove through the red light
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It's a good illustration of the nature of power. Rules are intentionally set in a way that you can't avoid breaking them. Most "offenders" will never be charged. But if those in power need, they can legally charge anyone. You drove through the red (it's always red btw). Guilty!
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Power is enforced by establishing unenforceable rules and then applying them selectively. This is a pattern you can see all around the world. But in Chechnya you can see it in a very naked, shameless form
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This also shows the limits of a legalistic approach. Legalism and technicality can be easily weaponised by an arbitrary power. Make everyone guilty -> exercise your capricious will according to the letter of the law. Just establish unenforceable rules and enforce them selectively
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While many see Kadyrov's regime as a sort of joke, I'd say it's functional when it wants to be functional. In Russia proper they can block the roads for many hours if some Big Boss is passing. In Chechnya they usually don't stop the traffic for more than a couple of minutes
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4-5 minutes before Kadyrov passes a policeman by the road gets a signal "He is coming". Then a policeman commands all the cars off the road. All the peasants' cars go to the roadsides. Then Kadyrov's cortege passes at 200 km/h. After that everyone is allowed on the road again
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Why would Kadyrov introduce such an early notice system? Well, he has a lot of *friends* and he doesn't want them to know where he'll be passing hours in advance. Much better if they learn it after he passed. So even the police doesn't get a signal until the very last moment
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Still, such a system is difficult to establish. First, you need 100% compliance. When you command "off the road", you must be absolutely sure that everyones gets off the road immediately. Even one insubordinate can cause huuuuge collision. So you must be sure everyone obeys
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Second, it's just difficult to organise such a system technically. One mistake and you get huuuuge collision. One reason Russian authorities keep the roads blocked for many hours is that they don't bother with organising an early notice system. Kadyrov's henchmen do bother
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Kadyrov's system can be pretty functional when it comes to what really matters - personal security of the higher ups. Now there's a question - how was this functional system built, historically speaking? It was largely established and organised by the Russian state security
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Through the 2000s Grozny was full with the Russian state security. They were everywhere. They were training his army , organising all the processes, setting up his kingdom. Gradually their number was decreasing, so now you can't see any. They are no longer needed -> thrown away
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The level of compliance in Chechnya is really impressive. It was probably the only region in Russia where the covid lockdown was actually enforced. In other regions people largely ignored social distancing etc, while in Chechnya Kadyrov imposed 100% compliance (in cities)
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Consider the education. Russian SAT is called the Unified State Exam (EGE). Many Russians mock the North Caucasian exam results, saying they all just draw themselves highest grades. That happens indeed, but this is more of a Dagestani etc. than a Chechen phenomenon.
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Dagestan is characterised by the abnormal number of very high grades and few failures. In Chechnya on the other hand, you can easily get 25% failures in math for example. What does it mean? Well, that means that the results are more honest. They didn't draw the fake results
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In neighbouring Dagestan there are tons of rich men. Deputies, mayors, ministers have villas, lots of expensive cars, etc. In Chechnya that is impossible. Officials are not allowed to display wealth. You can see very cheap cars parked near the ministries, unlike in Dagestan
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In Chechnya that is unthinkable. Chechnya has one rich man - Ramzan Kadyrov. Only he can have expensive cars, palaces. He has a palace in every district of Chechnya, in every major town/village. See his Grozny palace for example. Yes, that is a replica of Kaaba encircled in red
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Why does he need so many palaces, you may ask? As a security measure for the most part. He never ever sleeps outside of his palaces, so he must have them in every corner. Even if he visits Dagestan/Ingushetia, he always returns to one of his Chechen palaces to sleep
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Kadyrov's regime is not "tribal" as many presume. It is just a monarchy. Actually discussions about "tribes" in the context of Chechnya tend to be highly orientalist. "Oh, they're such a savages, it must be a tribal system". That's the savagery porn for the most part. Not true
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When we are talking about Chechen clans (teips), we should keep in mind they're closer to modern Scottish clans than to the clans of pre-Culloden Scotland in terms of how they function. Yeah, it's cool to have a teip. Yes, it's uncool or even weird not to have one. But that's it
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Picturing modern teips as functional political and military powers is wrong. "Chechen tribal leadership raising their men to war" is just as realistic as modern Duke of Argyll rallying the Campbell clansmen for a military expedition. Possible in 1745, but not in 2022
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Chechnya is less clannish than most presume and the Kadyrov's regime is *way* less clannish. Kinship doesn't matter nearly as much as many would think. Yes, Kadyrov's cousins-uncles-nephews are well-off people with some money and status. But they're not on the top
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It's not Kadyrov's kin who are on the top of the hierarchy. It's his henchmen who personally do the killing. It's the people who placed their loyalty to Kadyrov above their family ties and anything else. It is the people who would (usually did) kill their own kin for Kadyrov
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Here you can see Kadyrov with his three top henchmen: Patriot (here on the left), Lord (on the right) and Delimhanov (on the background with the grey beard). See more in Patriot's Instagram bibliogram.fdn.fr/za.vismuradov_鈥
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Of these three only a Patriot may be Kadyrov's distant relative. Lord and Delimkhanov are not his kin at all. Still, he placed them far above his kin for their loyalty. In return, they renounced any other loyalty and affiliation and prove it by killing their own family if needed
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Once again, it's not the relatives who have the highest status under Kadyrov's regime - it is the people who *personally* do the killing. Personal element is important, once you do it, you are tied with blood and can't go back. Especially if you kill your own family
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What is interesting about these people (of whom Delimkhanov, Lord and Patriot are the highest-ranked) is that they combine the role of a prosecutor, judge and executor. It's called going for "results"
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This guy would come to a village, pick up some people at his own whim, kill them and say they are terrorists/Salafis/Wahhabis. These killings are called "results", because this is the KPI Kadyrov is sending to Moscow. At the same time it's the demonstration of Patriot's loyalty
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This power is exercised with a good deal of capriciousness "So you are from that village? Damn, I wanted to come there for results, but didn't have time to. Will come by later". Killing is very personalised and highly arbitrary. Good for enforcing compliance
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