The mutated Chechen identity : “Akhmat Sila!” the significance of a slogan and its proliferation in the digital and physical space

Laznovsky, Nicholas Scott
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Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov has reshaped Chechen society to his ideal image. After two wars that made the city a living hell and an insurgency that was not cleared until the beginning of the last decade, Putin’s policy of Chechenisation that started in 2000 with the late Akmad-Hadji, has started to resemble a perceived peace. This peace provided the region’s inhabitants a sense of security and produces world-class sport fighters, catapulting young Chechen men and sometimes women up the social ladder. Despite the human-rights violations and accusations of funneling fighters to employment in the local armed forces, Kadyrov has been able to shape the image of the ideal Chechen man and simultaneously, reaffirm his power with a slogan, Akhmat-Sila. This slogan be heard in various mediums to the point of proliferation. This thesis will use a historical-digital ethnographic approach with a theoretical framework of nation branding to explain the shifts in Chechen identity and the slogan Akhmat-Sila, providing a background on how Chechen warrior culture and the patronage that gives the slogan agency now. The slogan will be examined on Instagram and supporting media sources. Chapter 1 dives into the Caucasus imaginary and history of Tsarist Russia, leading into the two Chechen Wars and years after. Chapter 2 will expand on the current research of Ramzan Kadyrov and his social media use, parsing out themes found in his Instagram account. Chapter 3 will focus on the theoretical framework that will support the qualitative approach for the phenomenon of the slogan. Chapter 4 will narrate the findings of the data, developing into a conclusion.