–RAMZAN OFFERS FORCES FOR SOUTH OSSETIA
Further solidifying his reputation as a rhetorical loose cannon, Ramzan Kadyrov told the Georgian television station Mze in an August 21 interview that he was prepared to send 5,000 gunmen from his personal security force to South Ossetia. That secessionist Georgian province is currently the focus of a potentially explosive confrontation between Georgia and Russia.
Georgian officials responded with bellicose rhetoric of their own. The August 23 issue of Nezavisimaya gazeta quoted Georgi Khaindrava, Georgia’s minister for regulating conflicts, as saying that “apparently for Kadyrov, there’s not enough bloodshed in his native country, he wants it also in Georgia. I do not advise him to stick his nose in, since it would then be necessary for him to forget about that comfort which surrounds him at home or in Moscow. Better for Mr. Kadyrov to look after Chechnya—if that is still possible for him.” On the same day, the Moscow newspaper Kommersant reported that a group of members of Georgia’s parliament had proposed sending to Chechnya a contingent of Georgian peacekeeping troops.
–SOVIET-ERA CHECHEN BOSS GETS A BIG PROMOTION
In mid-August, Vladimir Putin appointed Doku Zavgaev as deputy head of Russia’s Foreign Ministry. Boss of the Chechen-Ingush Republic during the Soviet years, Zavgaev remained loyal to the Kremlin through all the upheavals of the 1990s. He was rewarded by being put back in charge of Chechnya after the fall of Grozny to Moscow’s troops in 1995. With the separatists’ recapture of Grozny in 1996, he fled to Moscow again, and was appointed by Boris Yeltsin as Russia’s ambassador to Tanzania.
The Newsru.com website commented on August 13 that during the Soviet years such an appointment would have been considered a form of “exile” for a disgraced politician—but under today’s “new conditions,” even a “man without reputation” can be elevated from remote Africa to the heights of the foreign-policy bureaucracy.