For Chechnya’s president Ramzan Kadyrov, governance has always been something of a performance art. However, the role he chooses to play has changed over time, and is increasingly one of an independent and willful monarch, unwilling to swallow any challenges to his personal authority over Chechnya. How does he get away with it? Who is deterred and discomfited by his macho theatricals? The answer seems to be Vladimir Putin.
Even as Russia’s economy collapses, President Vladimir Putin retains an approval rating. Putin has been able to take advantage of the fact that, though Russians fear their government, they fear being left to fend for themselves even more.
Vladimir Putin’s disappearance shortly after the murder of opposition politician Boris Nemtsov and his triumphal reappearance after the broadcast of a documentary on state television, suggest a more erratic—and aggressive—policy.