Why the UFC’s ‘sportswashing’ of Chechnya’s dictator is a problem

The presence of Ramzan Kadyrov in the front sequence of a UFC show foreground a disturbing is connected with the Chechen strongman and the MMA promotion

On Saturday 15 September, Ramzan Kadyrov trod into Moscow’s Olimpiyskiy Stadium to watch the evening’s battles. Dressed in beige jeans and a lily-white t-shirt with a parallelling case, the notorious Chechen strongman was surrounded by three of his most loyal collaborators– one of whom has been accused of torture and another of plotting an homicide– as he made his channel to the front sequence of the 35,000 -capacity arena. Seated merely a few feet away from the cage, Kadyrov and his cronies watched the evening’s fightings in an entirely new specify. Though used to attending mixed martial art happens on a near-weekly basis in his native Chechnya, this was the first time that Kadyrov was present at a Ultimate Fighting Championship show.

Given Kadyrov’s well-documented human rights abuses- the most recent of which includes a deadly crackdown on LGBTQ+ people within Chechnya arising in torture and summary executions – his attendance in the front sequence of a UFC event spotlights a concerning link between the oppressor and the world’s largest MMA promotion.

Kadyrov’s decision to attend the UFC’s first ever show in Moscow is due to the presence of Magomed Ankhalaev, a UFC light heavyweight potential from Dagestan who represents Kadyrov through the dictator’s fighting guild, Akhmat MMA. That night, Ankalaev defeated Marcin Prachnio by head-kick knockout in the opening round. During his post-fight interview in the octagon, Ankalaev thanked Kadyrov for his support and finished off with Kadyrov’s now-infamous slogans “Akhmat Sila”( Akhmat Power ).

Founded in 2015, the Akhmat MMA fighting squad consists of an MMA promotion and several grooming facilities throughout Chechnya and various other post-Soviet regimes. The oppose fraternity is be supported by Kadyrov himself through his government’s budget and endures the name of Kadyrov’s father, Akhmad Kadyrov. Soldiers who are signed to the fight club’s official roster are paid monthly allowances that blanket medical overheads, teach expenses, and circulate fees. Depending on the level of success achieved, fighters are also gifted with expensive gondolas and other extravagant goods.

The Akhmat MMA engaged fraternity is performed by Abuzayed Vismuradov, a colonel to be one of the stronger men in Chechnya. Known by his nom de guerre’ Patriot ‘, Vismuradov formerly campaigned in the Chechen struggles against Russia alongside Kadyrov himself, before being promoted to commander of the Chechnya’s Special Forces, the’ Terek’ Chechen SWAT unit, as well as Kadyrov’s private security detail. Kadyrov’s decision to place one of his most influential insurance illustrations in charge of his MMA promotion and combat fraternity is demonstrated that the Akhmat fight club is likely an extension of Kadyrov’s own government.

Through Kadyrov’s patronage and support, the Akhmat fight club has risen to become one of the largest MMA training facilities and advertisings within the Russian Federation. The engage fraternity has signed various remarkable fighters from other MMA organizations and has placed its promotional might and resources behind them. Five of these fightings have moved on to sign with the UFC: Magomed Bibulatov, Abdul-Kerim Edilov, Ruslan Magomedov, Said Nurmagomedov, and Magomed Ankalaev. Four of those soldiers remain under contract with the UFC, despite the undeniable link between them and Kadyrov, while Edilov- who reportedly peril an HBO journalist in Chechnya– was reportedly liberated from his UFC contract in August 2018.

Other UFC contends have established relationships with Kadyrov. For illustration, in 2015 former UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum signed a” lucrative” spate to become an ambassador for Kadyrov’s Akhmat MMA campaigned society. He, very, was gifted an expensive automobile for his services to the oppressor, though has now been deleted the video of the car from social media.

Ramzan
Kadyrov’s photo-op with Mohamed Salah during the 2018 World Cup was denounced by Amnesty International as” pure sportswashing “. Photograph: Karim Jaafar/ AFP/ Getty Images

Like many strongmen before him, Kadyrov use sports to deepen his cult of temperament and bolster his reputation as a gracious chairman who enjoys athletics. Following the conclusion of its Second Chechen War in 2000, the Kremlin reached an agreement with Chechnya that sacrificed the republic increased financing support and resources in exchange for its complete allegiance to the Russian Federation. When Kadyrov rose to influence seven years later, he took predominate of a semi-autonomous republic ripe for alteration into his own personal fiefdom. As an expression of the results of Chechnya’s deal with the Kremlin, as well as Russian chairman Vladimir Putin’s continued support, Kadyrov has ruled over his people with an iron fist. He has also been able to use athletics like MMA and soccer to further cement his reign.

For example, during the 2018 World cup finals, which took place in various cities across Russia, Kadyrov hosted the Egyptian national squad and posed with virtuoso striker Mohamed Salah in front of a large mob at the Akhmat stadium. While Kadyrov viewed the photo-op as the opportunities to rub shoulders with arguably the more popular Muslim athlete in countries around the world, it was criticized by Amnesty International as” pure sportswashing “.

This was not the first time that Kadyrov paraded around with personalities and notable jocks. The strongman hosted the likes of Floyd Mayweather, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Steven Seagal, Hillary Swank, Ronaldinho and innumerable UFC boxers such as former endorses Frankie Edgar, Frank Mir, Chris Weidman, Alexander Gustafsson and current UFC lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov. By accompanying with famed fames and soldiers, Kadyrov is able to enhance his personal persona as the realization of Chechen ideologies and manlines. This use of soft supremacy facilitates maintain his stranglehold over Chechnya and distract from the crimes committed by his regime.

While the UFC is aware of the polemic smothering the Chechen dictator and the UFC soldiers who represent him, the advertisement has chosen to remain silent regarding this potential public relations nightmare. As of the time of submission of reports, the UFC has not responded to the Guardian’s is asking for comment. It should also be noted that the only time that the UFC publicly addressed the concern that some of their fighters were consorting with a vicious oppressor was in 2015, shortly after Werdum admitted his role as the distinguished ambassador for the Akhmat MMA opposed club.

” It is important to be acknowledged that UFC fighters operate as independent business partners , not hires, and that subject to their contractual commitments to UFC they are free to conduct business and to participate in activities as they pick ,” the UFC said in a statement to Sports on Earth.” We do expect, however, all soldiers to be bearing in mind the fact that their actions manifest well on themselves, the athletic and the UFC making .”

According to a source close to the phenomenon, Kadyrov and his suite entered the realm with valid tickets. Nonetheless, while different sources went on to add that the advertising undertake lent security measures to ensure the safety of those present in the realm, the UFC’s resumed silence on their indirect association to Kadyrov is troubling.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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