Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 4 Issue: 39

In addition to those already mentioned in Chechnya Weekly (see the October 23 issue), Akhmad Kadyrov’s October 19 inauguration included yet another blow to his prestige. Our contributor Zaindi Choltaev notes a striking scarcity of high ranking guests:

“Only one of the heads of neighboring Russian provinces was present. The head of Dagestan, home of numerous Chechen communities, stayed away–as did the president of the brother republic of Ingushetia, which has sheltered tens of thousands of Chechen refugees. (Perhaps this was a reaction to Ramzan Kadyrov’s insulting words about the Dagestanis and the Ingush on Grozny’s state television channel last month.) Also, there were no representatives on hand from European structures such as the OSCE.”

Choltaev was also struck by the newly inaugurated president’s statement that Chechnya has developed “a multi-party system almost like that in the rest of Russia.” In Choltaev’s words, “Chechnya has gone even further than Russia. The head of the Chechen branch of the United Russia party is one of the Yamadaev brothers, a former field commander for the rebels who has switched to Kadyrov’s side and who still has hundreds of his own gunmen. The People’s Party is headed in Chechnya by a member of Kadyrov’s cabinet, and the Union of Rightist Forces by a vice premier. Thus nearly all the main parties are controlled by Kadyrov’s own administration. The basic conditions for any kind of legal opposition or public pressure on the administration are simply not present….Chechnya’s current political system is like a diagram which on paper includes all the elements of democracy: a referendum, elections, parliament, a president. But everyone knows that this diagram has nothing to do with real democracy, it is simply an imitation.”