The leader of the Russia’s southern region of Chechnya has ordered his police to “shoot to kill” if servicemen from other parts of the country encroach on their territory.
Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov gave the order after a man was killed in his capital, Grozny, in an operation by police from the neighboring region of Stavropol. Kadyrov said on Instagram this week he had ordered an investigation into the death.
“I declare to you that if anyone appears on your territory without your knowledge, it doesn’t matter whether they’re from Moscow or Stavropol, then shoot to kill. People need to reckon with us,” Kadyrov told a meeting of his Interior Ministry in televised comments posted on YouTube.
They provided further evidence of tensions that surfaced between the Chechen leader and Russian authorities after leading opposition politician Boris Nemtsov was shot dead in Moscow in February and a former Chechen policeman was arrested as a suspect.
The Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs issued a statement calling Kadyrov’s statement “unacceptable”. It also said that the Stavropol police had informed their Chechen colleagues about the Grozny operation.
Kadyrov professes loyalty to President Vladimir Putin but enjoys a large degree of autonomy to run his mainly Muslim region as he chooses, having put down an anti-Moscow insurgency that gave rise to two wars in Chechnya after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Russian media have reported incidents of police in Moscow having run-ins with Chechens, then coming under pressure not to prosecute them because of their ties to the Chechen leader.
Kadyrov was defiant on Thursday, saying other Russian regions must respect the Chechens. “It’s enough. They humiliated us, they insulted us. We didn’t adopt the constitution and the law for them to kill us,” he said.