Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 7 Issue: 41

Chechen President Alu Alkhanov said on October 19 that he has no intention of resigning. As Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on October 20, Alkhanov was asked during a press conference in Moscow about the rumors that he would be forced to resign after October 5, the day Chechen Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov reached the age of 30—the minimum age for a Chechen president as stipulated by the Chechen constitution. Alkhanov responded that he had been elected by the people and that what happened in the future would depend on “the will of the Most High and the president of the Russian Federation.” Nezavisimaya gazeta commented that Alkhanov was clearly annoyed by the question about his rumored resignation, responding to it “through clenched teeth.”

Alkhanov also said during his press conference that Chechen fighters might take up arms on behalf of Abkhazia and South Ossetia if the breakaway Georgian regions were attacked by Georgian government forces. “I would not be bold enough to say that volunteers would not go to help the fraternal peoples of Abkhazia and South Ossetia,” Vedomosti on October 20 quoted Alkhanov as saying. He noted that Chechen volunteers had participated in various conflicts during that past 12-13 years, even adding that “if Georgia were attacked today, then volunteers would aid Georgia.” Alkhanov also claimed that Abkhazia’s October 18 request that Russia recognize it as an independent state reflected “the will of the people.”

Vedomosti quoted a source in “one of the Russian special services” as saying that the idea of using Chechens in a potential armed conflict with Georgia has both supporters and opponents within the Russian military and special services. According to the source, the arguments of the opponents “are connected not only with the negative experience of using Chechen volunteers under the command of Shamil Basaev during the Georgian-Abkhazian war of 1992-1993, but also with the fear of a possible destabilization of the situation in the North Caucasus and an excessive strengthening of Kadyrov,” the newspaper wrote. Thus, in the event of conflicts in Abkhazia and Ossetia, regular Russian forces would probably be used, the special services source told Vedomosti.