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Leader: In the court of hell

Our journalist Øystein Windstad was a hairpin from being killed in Chechnya.


Our journalist Øystein Windstad was a hairpin from being killed in Chechnya.

New Age grave journalist Øystein Windstad was attacked and injured at the border with Chechnya this week, along with nine other journalists and human rights defenders. It was probably Ramzan Kadyrov, the Chechen bully of a president, who was behind it. The party's minibus, which was on its way back to Grozny, had been chased for 200 hours by a car with Chechen signs, before the attack took place XNUMX meters from the country's border. Was Øystein known to the authorities? Oddly enough, several people suddenly canceled talking to them. Was it because he wrote here in the newspaper about the Chechen asylum seekers who after the deportation from Norway were tortured and killed for their opposition to Kadyrov's regime?
Exactly torture was the theme of the trip in which Øystein accompanied the Committee Against Torture (CAT). In recent years, the organization has documented serious human rights violations in Chechnya and the North Caucasus. CAT helps people who have been tortured, both legally and medically. Currently, they have 75 cases pending at the Human Rights Court in Strasbourg (see
Our grave journalist fought for life against the brutal outlaws, who fired at all the passengers with sticks and pointed objects. He defended himself as much as he could in the back of the minibus, as the last one to be pulled out of the car. In an inopportune moment he threw himself out of a broken window, seconds later to feel the drone of the explosion that immediately overtook the minibus. Øystein did not come home charred in a coffin, but escaped the stabbing with some beaten teeth, three bloody cuts and plastered feet. To all luck alive.
Øystein WindstadWhen I, as his editor, contacted him quickly after the incident via the local doctor's phone (the attackers destroyed his mobile and other equipment), he really did not feel well. He had been sure he was going to die, and was clearly marked by the situation. The next morning he asked us to have him evacuated from the hospital in Ingushetia – he feared that someone would kidnap or arrest him with false accusation (see also Windstad's text on the front). He just wanted one thing – home. Øystein got armed guards outside the hospital room, before organizer CAT brought him out with armed escort. Both the insurance company and the Norwegian embassy were ready to act if something went wrong.
In Grozny, Øystein had stayed in a guarded five-star hotel owned by President Kadyrov. He and the others in the group thought they were safe there. But in Kadyrov's Chechnya, the paramilitary forces are responsible for 75 percent of all abuses – something they will never be punished for. Not a few of the 39-year-old president's opponents have had to deal with life, not only in Chechnya, but also in cities such as Istanbul and Vienna. There is a video in which a Chechen tells about being tortured and then commanded to kill Chechen ex-leader Akhmed Zakayev in Norway.
Kadyrov's men can do whatever they want – they have impunity. In fact, when they had killed Putin-critical Russian politician Boris Nemtsov, they were surprised to be arrested. For Putin has long held his protective hand over the despot in the south – but the more that is revealed by the outrage from Kadyrov's hell, the more Putin loses reputation. This is precisely why documentation from journalists and courageous organizations such as CAT is so important.

Putin appointed Chechen strongman and Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov to be president of the restive province. 2007. AFP PHOTO / YURI TUTOVAFP ​​PHOTO / YURI TUTOV

Now Putin has asked his Minister of the Interior to investigate the attack in which our staff member was injured. But will it go forward? And who thinks Kadyrov is retiring as leader if Putin wants it – as the Chechen leader said when he was criticized? We know that such "strong" leaders often like each other.
Kadyrov orders immediate executions and liquidations. His men kidnap, rape, torture and kill (see the long list on Wikipedia). The country is also corrupt, and the management knows how to supply the state's money. This is how Kadyrov can drive around in one of his many expensive sports cars with celebrities (Jean-Claude van Damme!) By his side, often on his way to one of his many wrestling clubs.
At home, Kadyrov has nine children, including six daughters. The man who supports polygamy and is a "girl's Jens", takes care when appropriate, often through the use of violence. He considers the woman the property of the man, and believes that honor killing is perfectly fine.
One of several killed journalists with Chechnya as a special area was Anna Politkovskaya. Ten years ago, she was murdered – on Putin's birthday. On a visit to Norway a little earlier, during an interview, I asked her straight out how she, as a mother of two, dared to expose herself to the imminent danger of being killed by Kadyrov and the thugs she criticized. She stared at me for a moment before responding: "But I just can't do anything else. This is so serious. "

So far this year, 11 journalists have been killed as a result of their work. Last year, the number ended up at 64. 151 people are currently incarcerated in conflict areas – because they want to show people what is actually happening. Øystein could have been one of these. Because in Chechnya there are plenty of prisons and cages where people are locked up. In the garden of Kadyrov in the village of Tsenteroy just south of Groznyj, he has imprisoned kidnapped family members of several of his "soldiers". Because of these bunkers where relatives are kept trapped, Kadyrov can force the loyalty of his henchmen.
CAT and a number of other organizations reveal the criminals who maintain such hell on earth. The idealists are brave, reflected people with a good portion of democratic profits despite the conditions under which they operate. People with a will where you just can't do anything else. All honor to that work. And welcome home, Øystein!

Truls Lie
Truls Liehttp: /
Editor-in-chief in MODERN TIMES. See previous articles by Lie i Le Monde diplomatique (2003–2013) and Morgenbladet (1993-2003) See also part video work by Lie here.

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