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Chechen Leader Says Tsarnaev Conviction Was a Plot by U.S. Spies

Ramzan Kadyrov says the U.S. intelligence community needed a fall guy for the bombing and found one in the form of Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

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Ramzan Kadyrov is the mercurial and cruel leader of the Russian republic of Chechnya, where he has brutally suppressed an Islamist insurgency through a campaign of torture, disappearances, and extrajudicial executions. He is said to have personally participated in the torture of his opponents and has a fondness for gold-plated pistols. Kadyrov freely trafficks in conspiracy theories, and so naturally he believes that the conviction of Boston Marathon bomber Dzokhar Tsarnaev, whose family has links to the region, was a plot concocted by American spies.

“The American intelligence services, accused of being involved in the Boston tragedy, needed a victim. Tsarnaev became that victim,” the Chechen leader wrote on his Instagram account, which is his primary tool of public communication.

In his Instagram post, Kadyrov described Dzokhar and his brother, Tamerlan, who is thought to have masterminded the attack, as ideal American immigrants, playing sports, writing music, and studying. Tamerlan, who Kadyrov pointed out had gotten married and had a child, “had an ideal biography to be a gubernatorial candidate.” As for Dzokhar, “he was nine years old when he arrived in the United States. And America, which he believed in, made him a terrorist.”

These were men unequipped to carry out a terrorist attack, according to Kadyrov. “Who turned them into terrorists? Who taught them so skillfully to prepare bombs, plan the attack and not leak information? And which authorities purposefully did not notice their preparations?” Kadyrov asked. “I do not believe that Tsarnaev committed this act of terrorism without the knowledge of the U.S. special services.”

It’s been quite the few days for Kadyrov, who has recently become embroiled in a child marriage scandal in Chechnya. This weekend, a Chechen police chief — alternately described as 47 or 57 years of age — married a 17-year-old girl amid allegations that she was forced into the union. Kadyrov personally sanctioned the marriage and attended the wedding, posting a video of himself dancing at the ceremony.

The groom, Nazhud Guchigov, had reportedly threatened the family of his bride, Louisa Goilabiyeva, with “unfortunate consequences” if they did not consent to their daughter’s marriage. Guchigov is reportedly already married, and his union with such a young bridge has sparked an intense discussion in Russia about polygamy. The practice is not allowed under Russian law, but under Kadyrov’s rule in Chechnya, rights activists argue that the rule of law has all but evaporated. If Kadyrov signs off on a polygamous marriage, there’s little recourse.

“He is married and has children. She’s younger than his children. The Chechen woman is powerless; she can expect help from nowhere,” a friend of Goilabiyeva, who is also known as Kheda, wrote on social media, according to the Daily Beast. “Kheda told him that she has a boyfriend, but it was disregarded. They say that her boyfriend was beaten half to death.”

Russia’s federal authorities, meanwhile, are standing aside and letting Putin’s crony in Grozny reward his lieutenants with child brides. “Emancipation and sexual maturity come earlier in the Caucasus, let’s not be hypocritical,” Russia’s children’s rights ombudsman Pavel Astakhov said last week. “There are places where women are already shriveled by the age of 27, and look about 50 to us.”

Dmitry Korotayev/Epsilon/Getty Images

Elias Groll is a staff writer at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @EliasGroll

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