Some three weeks ago, Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of the Chechen Republic, which is part of the Russian Federation, launched a brutal media campaign against Russian opposition politicians and journalists, and against human rights activists and organizations in Russia that criticize the authorities. Writing on his Instagram account and on other media outlets, and using Stalin-era rhetoric, he called them "enemies of the people" who have treasonous ties with the West and are acting to destroy the Russian homeland. He described them as lunatics who need hospitalization and even made implicit death threats against opposition leaders.
The campaign was soon joined by other prominent Chechen leaders, members of both chambers of the Russian Parliament, and by official Chechen Republic media outlets, who likewise spoke out against the opposition in mocking, virulent and threatening tones. The state news agency Grozny Inform posted a "Gallery of National Traitors," featuring photos of prominent opposition figures and human rights activists.
Kadyrov's campaign against opposition elements in Russia is apparently aimed at currying favor with the Kremlin and at cultivating his image as a political strongman.
The following are excerpts from statements by Kadirov and other Chechen leaders and from what was published on Chechen official media.
Ramzan Kadyrov (Image: Izvestia.ru, January 18, 2016)
Ramzan Kadyrov: The Oppositionists Are 'Enemies Of The People'
In a meeting with journalists on January 12, 2016, Ramzan Kadyrov said; "Representatives of the so-called non-systemic opposition are trying to exploit our complex economic situation. These figures must be treated as 'enemies of the people,' as traitors. Nothing is sacred for themÔÇª These people do not care about Russia's fate or about the Russian people. They play the game invented by the Western intelligence agencies; they are dancing to [these agencies'] tune while shamelessly pretending to care about the future of our country. I believe that these people must be punished for their subversive activities."
On January 12, Kadirov wrote on his Instagram account: "We are witnessing an open attack by foreign elements and by the so-called liberal media, associations, institutions and fake politicians, [an attack] on all of Russia and in particular on the North Caucasus. Their goal is to spark chaos, instability, internal conflicts, and religious and ethnic riots. They act brazenly and shamelessly, and do not hide their goals, objectives and intentions. In this situation we cannot allow ourselves to be mere bystanders. It is important to deliver a proper and devastating counterblow to these enemies of Russia. We have to explain to the [press] readers and [radio] listeners exactly what is hiding behind [the statements of] these sweet-talking politicians who are nurtured by the Western secret services and whose only dream is to see Russia powerless and on her knees."
'I Asked... To Prepare VIP Rooms In The Local Mental Hospitals' For The Oppositionists
On January 18, after oppositionists accused him of making threats, he wrote on his Instagram account: "ÔÇªTo be honest, I wasn't making any threats! If they detected any threat in [what I said], they must understand that some of us [Chechens] died for Russia, for our homeland, and we are ready to do anything to protect our motherland. Today I asked the heads of the Gudermes and Achkhoi-Martan districts [of Chechnya] to prepare VIP rooms in the local mental hospitals. Our experts say that, just by looking at the photos of those people, they can see that they are in urgent need of treatment and rehabilitation."
On the same day, Kadirov wrote on the major Russian daily Izvestia: "ÔÇªThe so-called non-systemic opposition has become so brazen that it is using the federal media to promote its ideas for the destruction of the Russian state. The Echo of Moscow radio station, TVRain, the RBC [media group] and others happily broadcast their false and hypocritical statements and comments filled with a deep hatred towards Russia. Who gave this handful of despicable liberals the right to refer to themselves as the Russian intelligentsia?"
On January 31, 2016, Kadyrov published on his Instagram account a video in which Mikhail Kasyanov, head of the Russian oppositional party PARNAS, and his deputy Vladimir Kara-Murza, are seen through the scope of a sniper rifle. The message that accompanied the video said: "Kasyanov went to Strasbourg to raise money for the Russian opposition. Whoever doesn't get [the meaning of this video], will!" The video was later removed by Instagram for violating its community policy.
Chechen Republic Parliament Speaker: Kadyrov's Dog Tarzan Will Punish The Oppositionist Curs
Magomed Daudov, speaker of the Chechen Republic Parliament, said in a statement to the Chechen Republic official news agency, Grozny Inform: "Using funds from various Wahhabi foundations, and American and European non-governmental and 'human rights' organizations, the henchmen of the North Atlantic intelligence agencies are constantly trying to destabilize the [Chechen] Republic, thwarting our efforts to end the [Chechen] war and move towards peace. We do not understand why the openly hostile 'fifth column' headquarters, such as Echo of Moscow and TVRain, conduct experiments on the consciousness of Russian citizens, [experiments] that are so monstrously cynical and filled with hate towards RussiaÔÇª"
He added: "We cannot fathom it. How can some corrupt cultural figures, journalists and politicians whom we nurtured, people like [Victor] Shenderovich, [Alexei] Venediktov, Ponomarev, [Igor] Kalyapin, [Konstantin] Merzlikin or [Ilya] Yashin, freely mock the customs and traditions of the different peoples of Russia, calling them wild or medieval?!"
Ridiculing and threatening these same oppositionist figures, Daudov posted on his Instagram account a photo of Kadyrov with his dog Tarzan (see below), accompanied by the following message: "Here is Tarzan again... He easily exposes hypocrites, while ignoring the jackals yapping somewhere far away, because he fights [only] wolves, [foes] of his own caliber, and only seasoned ones. He has no love for dogs of foreign breeds, especially American ones, various staffords and darkly-colored pit bulls [a reference to Obama]. European breeds are also annoying, especially the ones [in Eastern Europe] who until recently were kept on a chain under the close supervision of our master [i.e., the Russian leader]ÔÇª Because of the fuss [that the East Europeans] are making behind the scenes, some [Russian] pooches have completely dissolved into continuous barking, poor things. Some of the pugs are so aroused that the 'Echo' is heard from Moscow itself [a reference to the radio station Echo of Moscow]!
Kadyrov and his dog Tarzan (Image: Instagram.com/lord_095, January 18, 2016)
"We [also] have some 'serious' dogs, which is why our peace-loving Tarzan is barring his fangs and itching for a fight. For instance, we have the Pekingese Kalyapa [Igor Kalyapin], who protects the rights of those suggested by the pit bulls; the dachshund Venya [Alexei Venediktov], with a deceitful throat and a loud Echo; Moscow's mongrel Ponomar [Lev Ponomarev], who arrogantly calls himself a lion [a pun on his first name, Lev] and who lives in a garbage can near the State Duma, creating discomfort in the very center of our capital with his own stench, and the tike Yashka [Ilya Yashin]...
"So our friend [Tarzan] doesn't like these male dogs, mainly because they remind him of slutty bitches. Unlike them, he is absolutely convinced that the male dog should always remain a male dog and not turn into a bitch... Those pitiful curs have become cocky, thinking that 'reliable lions' are watching their back.
"Tarzan is kind enough, patient enough, [he] knows how to waitÔÇª He knows the main rule of this cruel world: if you rip out the wolf's guts, jackals will fade away, hastily making for the woods. If you rip out the pit bull's throat, pooches will turn belly up, sweeping the asphalt with their tails and squeaking in delight before the new pack leader.
"Tarzan became very excited, and could barely be restrained. Oh, [think] what could have happened here... if hadn't been for... democracy!!!..."
Chechen State Duma Member: Oppositionists Will Be held Accountable, By Legal Means Or Otherwise
Adam Delimkhanov, a Chechen member of the State Duma, Russia's lower house of parliament, organized a rally in support of Kadirov on January 19 in Moscow, at the site of the assassination of Boris Nemtsov. Later he posted a video on his Instagram account, showing a group of rally participants shouting in unison, "Russia! Russia can count on Ramzan [Kadirov]!"
Delimkhanov also spoke at another rally in support of Kadyrov, held in Grozny on January 22.  He said: "Whoever they are, wherever they are, [all those who] have an unfavorable word for the head of the Chechen Republic or for Russian President Vladimir Putin, we know all of them, we have a list [of their names] in our pockets and they will answer for it! They will be held responsible, either by legal means or otherwise! [They will not escape] even if they do not live inside the Russian Federation, but rather in other countries that have their own laws. We do not recognize those laws. Because traitors are traitors."
In a statement to the Grozny Inform news agency, Suleiman Geremeev, a member of the Federation Council, Russia's Upper House of Parliament, said of the "non-systemic" opposition: "I do not understand how our so-called 'liberals' can be so full of hatred toward their motherland [Russia], [how they can] despise their own people, lie so shamelessly, [spread] slander, alter history and sling mud at the very country where they were born and raised, in which they live, and which their fathers and grandfathers built and defended with their lives. Is nothing sacred to these people?... Are they ready to sell everything, to justify terrorism for [a few] foreign coins, and even to wage war, just in order to receive an approving nod from abroad? And they continue to call themselves patriots, or a liberal opposition? No, this is not opposition, this is a betrayal! And they will be held accountable for it, to the fullest extent of the law."
On January 18, Chechen deputy minister Lema Gudaev launched on his Instagram account a social media campaign titled "Ramzan Kadyrov is the Pride of Russia," asking his followers to post photos of themselves holding signs bearing pro-Kadyrov slogans."
In response to Gudaev 's call, Russian film director Fedor Bondarchuk (left) and Russian signer Nikolai Baskov posted photos of themselves holding signs saying "Kadyrov is a Russian Patriot" (Image: Instagram.com/lord_095, January 20, 2016)
A Gallery Of Traitors
The state news agency Grozny Inform posted a "Gallery of National Traitors" on Instagram, containing photos of Russian opposition politicians, activists and journalists. The gallery includes prominent politicians such as PARNAS head Mikhail Kasyanov, Alexei Navalny, Ilya Yashin, Ilya Ponomarev, Garry Kasparov and Mikhail Kholorkovsky; liberal journalists such as Victor Shenderovich, Alexei Venediktov, Yevgeniya Albats and Ksenia Sobchak, and human rights activists such as Lev Ponomarev, Svetlana Gannushkina, Igor Kalyapin and others.
 Oppositional forces which operate outside of the official political establishment.
 Chechnya.gov.ru, January 12, 2016.
 Instagram.com/kadyrov_95, January 12, 2016.
 Interfax.ru, January 13, 2016.
 Instagram.com/kadyrov_95, January 18, 2016.
 Izvestia.ru, January 18, 2016.
 Mikhail Kasyanov was Russia's Prime minister in 2000-2004, and is now chairman of the Russian oppositionist People's Freedom Party (PARNAS).
 Instagram.com/kadyrov_95, January 31, 2016.
 A popular Russian satirist, writer and journalist.
 The chief editor of the Echo of Moscow radio station.
 A reference to either Lev Ponomarev, the executive director of the All Russian Public Movement For Human Rights, or Ilya Ponomarev, the only member of the State Duma who voted against the annexation of Crimea during the 2014 Russian invasion of Ukraine, and who now lives in exile in California.
 A human rights activist and chairman of the Committee for Prevention of Torture.
 Leaders of the oppositionist People's Freedom Party (PARNAS).
 Grozny-inform.ru, January 16, 2016.
 Instagram.com/lord_095, January 18, 2016.
 Nemtsov, a statesman and liberal politician and an outspoken critic of President Putin, was assassinated on February 27, 2015; Elements associated with Kadyrov were implicated in his murder.
 Instagram.com/delimkhanov95, January 19, 2016.
 The official Chechen news agency, Grozny Inform, reported that the rally was attended by one million people (Grozny-inform.ru, January 23, 201). It should be noted that the population of the Chechen Republic is only about 1.3 million people.
 Novayagazeta.ru, January 22, 2016.
 Grozny-inform.ru, January 18.
 Instagram.com/checheninfo, January 18, 2016.
 Instagram.com/grozny_inform, January 19-21, 2016.
 A Russian politician and lawyer, founder of a Russian NGO that fights corruption in the state institutions.
 A former World Chess Champion, writer and politician who left Russia in 2013. Chairman of the U.S.-based Human Rights Foundation (TheHRF.org)
 A Russian businessman and opposition leader who has been living in Switzerland since his release from the Russian prison in 2013. Founder of Open Russia movement.
 Chief editor of The New Times magazine.
 Journalist and presenter on the oppositionist TVRain channel.
 A human rights activist, chair of the Civic Assistance Committee that aids refugees in Russia.