Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 1 Issue: 1

In what has been interpreted by some commentators as another sign of the weakening of Russia’s hold on Chechnya, it has been announced on that Russia’s central administration in the republic will be moved thirty kilometers from Chechnya’s second city, Gudermes, back to the ruined capital of Grozny (Dzhokhar-gala). The move is to be completed by 1 November, when reconstruction work on the administration building in Grozny is to be finished. It may be that Russian forces have been effectively forced out of Gudermes by the separatists through a successful isolation of the city from its water and electricity supplies, and from rail communications. A hasty move back to the pulverized Chechen capital would otherwise not seem to make political sense.

That the war remains a grim reality was made clear on 11 October when a remote-control bomb concealed in a jeep exploded in Grozny killing some fifteen people and wounding more than a dozen. According to Russian news agencies, most of those killed were pro-Moscow Chechen policemen, while most of the wounded were civilians. The deputy commander of Russian forces in Chechnya, General Nikolai Getman, interpreted the bombing as a blow against the idea of the Chechen Republic’s gaining its own police force.

Pro-Moscow police were reported on 10 October to have averted an effort to blow up the Church of the Archangel in Grozny, the only remaining Orthodox church in the capital. According to Interior Ministry spokesmen, the homemade explosive device was set to go off when worshipers were to arrive at the church for a service. An earlier attempt to blow up the same church had been thwarted on October 4. These incidents appeared to be another example of the mushrooming hatred of some Chechens for all ethnic Russians, and for the official Russian Orthodox Church, and not just for representatives of the Russian power ministries.