The official statement from the Chechnyan presidential office damns it precisely as much as if it had openly admitted to torturing homosexuals: ‘You cannot detain and persecute people who simply do not exist in the republic. If there were such people in Chechnya, the law-enforcement organs wouldn’t need to have anything to do with them because their relatives would send them somewhere from which there is no returning.’

The rhetoric recalls Stalinism. Not simply in its apophatic invocation of Siberian labour camps. One must make the dialectic switch in order to read between the lines: precisely because these are non-people, ‘people who simply do not exist’, that is why they cannot be detained: for, in order to be unjustly detained one must be legally recognized as a person with human rights. The erasure of them as non-people is the admission of inhumanity.

‘If there were such people’: the subjunctive conditionality of the counterfactual. This is precisely how Adorno defines totalitarianism: ‘Totality is to be opposed by convicting it of nonidentity with itself- of the nonidentity it denies’ (Negative Dialectics, 147). Ramzan Kadyrov’s ‘republic’ denies anything unlike itself, must deny that anything could be unlike itself, anything that would threaten its integrated, self-identical totality. To deny that things could ever be otherwise is the shibboleth of ideology.

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