Publication: Monitor Volume: 7 Issue: 105

Khamzat Idrisov, Chechnya’s first deputy premier, who was one of the first officials to receive a post in republic’s new government at the beginning of the year, was arrested on May 26 on suspicion of having embezzled a large amount of state funds while serving in the governments of Djohar Dudaev, Chechnya’s first president, and Zemlikhan Yandarbiev, Dudaev’s successor. According to Vasily Vasilenko, Chechnya’s press and information minister, Idrisov, who is currently being detained, will soon be formally charged. Vasilenko also emphasized that Chechen administration head Akhmad Kadyrov’s decree naming Idrisov first deputy premier had not been approved by the Southern federal district. Nikolai Britvin, the deputy presidential envoy to the Southern federal district was more categorical, calling Idrisov an “imposter” (Russian agencies, May 29).

Idrisov’s arrest is undoubtedly a sharp blow to Kadyrov’s position. It is worth recalling that Kadyrov’s appointment as head of the pro-Moscow administration in Chechnya was a rather brave step, given that he had fought on the side of the separatists during the 1994-1996 war. In 1996 Kadyrov was elected Chechnya’s mufti and was among those who initiated attempts to turn Chechnya into an Islamic state. Kadyrov switched to the Kremlin’s side only after the current military campaign began, a move he justified on the grounds that Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov was unable to deal with the so-called Wahhabis–Moslem fundamentalists who opposed the Sufi strain of Islam that is dominant in Chechnya. During the 1996-1999 period, the fundamentalists organized four attacks on Kadyrov.

Kadyrov has denounced the arrest of Idrisov as a “fabricated case” and alleges that the real motives for the arrest are political, not financial. Said Yusupov, Kadyrov’s representative in Moscow, said he was convinced the Russian authorities had begun a campaign against Kadyrov (Radio Liberty, May 29).