“Chechenization” should be used not just as a term for the Putin administration’s reliance on Kadyrov, suggests Moskovskie novosti commentator Dmitry Oreshkin, but as a metaphor for what Putin’s policies in Chechnya are doing to Russia as a whole. For example, October’s rigged presidential election in Chechnya was a kind of dress rehearsal for what will be happening in Russia’s presidential election next month.
Oreshkin found a telling harbinger in the way Chechnya voted in December’s all-Russian parliamentary election. Of all the election districts in the entire country, the one that ostensibly gave the highest level of support to the pro-Putin United Russia was Chechnya’s Grozny district: 97.2 percent. “We are asked to believe,” he wrote, “that not one of the district’s 51,300 voters marked his ballot for Yabloko or the Liberal Democratic Party.”
On the other hand, Oreshkin spotted an oddity in the Oktyabr district, where the minor “Democratic Party of Russia” scored 65 percent of the vote in polling place number 384–and United Russia received no votes at all. Thus, this polling place was “the only large one in the country where the party in power did not get one single vote. Perhaps, he suggested, the local election authorities “decided to use this exotic method to show the president and his party how Chechens really feel about the policies of the federal center.”