Chechnya, Land of Kidnappings and Tigers

Update: The bodies of Zarema Sadulayeva and her husband Alik Dzhabrailov were found this morning, in the trunk of a car parked outside of Chechen capital Grozny. They had been shot.

Chechen Human Rights Activist Zarema Sadulayeva and her husband were kidnapped by security forces today, causing activists to worry that they may suffer the same fate as slain activist Natalia Estemirova, who was murdered last month after a similar abduction.

The crime has inspired @Transitionland to rename Chechnya “The Land of Kidnappings and Tigers,” in homage to our favorite post tag.

Here at Wronging Rights we are dedicated to accuracy in all things big cat, so I wasn’t about to risk of such a title being applied to tigerless territory. When I saw the tweet in question, I immediately swooshed down the fireman’s pole to the Human Rights Batcave and commenced googling: “Chechnya.” “Tiger.”

And so it was that I happened upon the following amazing information: Ramzan Kadyrov, dictator, torturer, and all-around crazy dude, took some time out of his busy 2006 schedule (“death, death, death, lunch, death, quick shower“) to nurse a sick pet tiger back to health.

The story was covered in the Guardian after Kadyrov was photographed with the tiger for Russian daily Komsomolskaya Pravda, alongside a story in which he instructed the animal to eat the newspaper’s reporter, “because he writes incorrectly about me.”

The Guardian, unable to be anything but Guardian-y, expressed concern that the tiger might not have been acquired legitimately.

“Questions were immediately asked about the tiger’s provenance. Natalia Dronova, coordinator of the trafficking programme at the World Wildlife Fund’s Moscow office, said Mr Kadyrov should account for where he got the tiger.
She added he would need paperwork if he were to transfer it to a zoo, and could break the law if he kept it at home without documentation. There are as few as 450 Ussuriisk tigers living wild in Russia’s Amur region, 50 of which are killed each year, their body parts used in traditional Chinese medicine.”

Because of course the possibility that Kadyrov could be in possession of an illicit tiger, who lacks proper paperwork and licensing, is completely shocking given his usually-scrupulous respect for the rule of law. I’ll bet that as soon as he got the WWF’s message, he went right out and applied for a Tiger Permit.

Amanda Taub

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