Threats made by the head of the Chechen Republic against opposition leaders, the media, and human rights activists have raised the concern of Amnesty International. The organization notes that it's dangerous to do human rights work and openly criticize the government in Russia.
International human rights organization Amnesty International (AI) has urged the Russian authorities to "immediately and unhesitatingly" respond to the harsh statements of the head of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, which addressed the Russian non-systemic opposition, a number of human rights defenders and the media. "These threats are just another sinister twist in a campaign of persecution against independent nonprofit organizations and human rights defenders that continues in Russia," an open letter, published on the AI website on January 21st, stated.
Human rights activists point out that "similar threats have preceded" the murder of journalist Anna Politkovskaya, who reported on war crimes and human rights violations in Chechnya, and the death of Chechen human rights activist Natalya Estemirova. The murder of the latter, in particular, “has served for the whole of Russia as signal that human rights work and even open statements against the government are very dangerous," Amnesty International said.
Ramzan Kadyrov said on January 12th that the representatives of the opposition, who "play the game invented by western intelligence agencies, dance to their tune," should be treated as "enemies of the people." He also criticized media outlets such as Ekho Moskvy, Dozhd and RBC because they, in his words, "find pleasure in broadcasting false, hypocritical statements" made by the opposition. The Speaker of the Chechen Parliament, Magomed Daudov, has had harsh words for the same media organizations, as well as some human rights activists and political activists. Later, Kadyrov called to punish the representatives of the Russian non-parliamentary opposition "to the full extent of the law."
The Russian Presidential Human Rights Council (HRC) called Kadyrov's statement inadmissible. A spokesman for the Russian president, Dmitry Peskov, said that in speaking about the non-systemic opposition, Kadyrov was referring to those "who in their activities do not stay within the law and are ready to break it."