Rohingya Crisis: Chechen Leader Hints Break With Russia If Moscow Condones 'Muslim Genocide'

Kadyrov
Chechnya's head Ramzan Kadyrov attends the Victory Day military parade, marking the 72nd anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in World War II, in the Chechen capital Grozny, Russia, May 9. Said Tsarnayev/Reuters

Thousands of Russian citizens in Chechnya have rallied in support of one of the world's most persecuted minorities, as regional leader Ramzan Kadyrov said he will break with Moscow's policy if it does not condemn what he called a "genocide of Muslims."

The statement, made by Kadyrov on YouTube, came as thousands of his fellow Chechen Russians rallied in the city of Grozny to protest a huge uptick in violence against the Rohingya people in southeast Asia.

Almost 90,000 refugees crossed into Bangladesh from nearby Myanmar, where many of them accuse the Myanmar army of rapes, murders and acts of arson.

Kadyrov, a self-described "footsoldier" of Russian President Vladimir Putin and "servant" of Allah, said he would break with the Kremlin if it decided to support the persecutors.

"If...Russia supported these devils that carry out the crimes today, I am against Russia's position because I have my own views and my own position," Kadyrov said in his YouTube clip.

The Chechen leader, who himself has been accused of numerous human rights abuses, also said it was not possible for him to send Chechen armed police as military to protect the Rohingya because of "geography," adding he felt constrained by circumstance.

"If it were my will, if there was the opportunity, I would launch a nuclear hit there," Kadyrov said. "I would just destroy these people that kill children, women and old people."

The regional leader, who enjoys broad powers in Chechnya since he switched allegiance to Moscow during the separatist wars in Chechnya during the 1990s, frequently says that Chechnya and Russia's interests converge. He softened his latest rare statement of intent to break with Moscow, adding he was sure Russia would not commend the persecutors.

Most of Kadyrov's ire was directed at the United Nations, as he accused the organization of "limiting itself to pathetic statements about its concern."

Speaking at Monday's rally, Kadyrov addressed Putin to use "all of [his] authority and influence in the world" to stop the persecution of the Rohingya people, emphasizing the fact that Myanmar is not under economic sanctions.

Ironically it is Russia and China who vetoed a U.N. motion to discuss the plight of the Rohingya people in March. Russia is a longstanding trade and arms partner to the Myanmar government. Last year Moscow signed an agreement of military cooperation with the Myanmar military, intended to boost its readiness for battle. According to The Guardian, the Myanmar government is actually suppressing and blocking U.N. aid from reaching those in need.

Rohingya Crisis: Chechen Leader Hints Break With Russia If Moscow Condones 'Muslim Genocide' | World