BABICH STEPS IN. A 32-
Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 3 Issue: 35
year-old retired captain in the Russian military, Mikhail Babich, has been named as the new prime minister of the pro-Moscow Chechen government. At the time of his appointment, Babich had been employed as the deputy governor of Ivanovo Oblast. Gazeta.ru reported on November 14 that Babich had earlier been “embroiled in several major scandals” and that, on one occasion, he had worked as vice president of an organization that had “gained notoriety for selling U.S. humanitarian aid” and for “misappropriating proceeds that were to be transferred to the Pension Fund.” Babich’s reputation as an adroit financial wheeler-dealer was apparently one factor behind his appointment. The close ties this 1990 graduate of the Higher Military School of Communications in Ryazan enjoys with the Russian military were presumably a second. As Novaya Gazeta observed in its November 14 issue, Babich had recently endeared himself to the Ministry of Defense by ousting 300 orphans, including some Chechen children, from a dormitory building where they had been housed in Ivanovo Oblast and then turning the premises over to the army to be used as a military school. Upon taking up his duties, Babich emphasized that his first priority would be to implement President Putin’s expressed wish to “complete the process of transferring the Chechen refugees from Ingushetia to their homeland” (Strana.ru, November 18).