Chechnya’s acting prime minister, Shamil Basaev, has obtained preliminary approval from President Aslan Maskhadov for a list of candidates to fill key posts in the new government he is forming. In accordance with Chechnya’s constitution, Maskhadov will give his final approval only after the candidates have been confirmed by parliament, but the main appointments are already clear. Virtually all of the well-known field commanders will remain in the new government, but the influence of the radicals — those who favor a hard line both domestically and in relations with Moscow — will increase.
The Ministry of Defense will be headed by Brig. Gen. Ruslan Gelaev, who was deputy premier in the old cabinet; like Basaev, he is seen as favoring an uncompromising approach toward Moscow. The Ministry of Internal Affairs will be reorganized into the Ministry of Shariah Security and will be headed by Islam Khalimov, who was deputy premier in charge of social issues in the last government. The former interior minister, Kazbek Makhashev, will become deputy premier overseeing the security forces. Shamil Basaev’s brother, Shirvani Basaev, will become Minister of Fuel and Energy, with a mandate to put a stop finally to the massive plundering of petroleum.
Movladi Udugov is expected to lose his rank as deputy premier but will become Foreign Minister with greater powers than those his predecessor enjoyed; Udugov will continue to head the Chechen delegation in negotiations with the Russians. Udugov is the author of the modern concept of Chechen statehood and of the idea of creating an Islamic state in Chechnya. He is also leader of the "Islamic Nation" movement, which has as its goal the restoration of Dagestan within its "historical borders," that is, the union of Dagestan and Chechnya into a single state. (NTV, RTR, January 12)
Disagreement Over How to Treat Basaev.