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1 February 2016 

Chechnya's Kadyrov puts Putin critic Kasyanov in gunsights

Chechnya's leader Ramzan Kadyrov has posted an Instagram video showing Russian opposition politician Mikhail Kasyanov in a sniper's crosshairs.

Mr Kasyanov, a former prime minister, is a high-profile critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, in the opposition RPR-Parnas party. Recently Mr Kadyrov called Mr Putin's critics "enemies" and "traitors".

The new video is the latest in a series of threatening messages from Mr Kadyrov against Kremlin critics, whom he accuses of working for the West.

It shows Mr Kasyanov talking to Vladimir Kara-Murza, a journalist who runs the pro-democracy opposition movement Open Russia. The movement was launched by exiled oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

The video was posted late on Sunday and has more than 16,000 "likes".

Mr Kasyanov says he sees it as a direct death threat and will demand a criminal investigation.

Ilya Yashin, who co-chairs RPR-Parnas with Mr Kasyanov, called the video "an open threat to murder Kasyanov".

Another opposition leader, anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny, echoed that view. On Facebook, Mr Navalny said (in Russian) "there is no longer any doubt that all such statements in recent weeks and specifically this one were approved by Putin and the Kremlin, and quite probably were inspired by them too".

The BBC's Sarah Rainsford in Moscow says they key question now is whether Mr Kadyrov is acting on his own initiative.

One theory discussed on Russian social media is that he is being used by the Kremlin to intimidate its critics - particularly as growing economic problems raise the potential for protest.

Others suggest that Mr Kadyrov is becoming a dangerous loose cannon - a regional leader who believes he is untouchable, our correspondent reports.

The phrase "Whoever doesn't get it will get it!" is the title of a thriller that Mr Kadyrov says he has filmed, starring himself as a machine gun-toting all-action hero.

BBC.co.uk

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