Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 7 Issue: 8

Kommersant reported on February 22 that the office of presidential envoy to the Southern Federal District (YuFO), Dmitry Kozak, has asked the YuFO division of the federal Prosecutor General’s Office to assess the legality of actions taken by Chechen government officials. According to the newspaper, the request was made in response to acting Chechen Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov’s announcement that the Danish humanitarian organizations would be banned from the republic for the caricatures of the Prophet Muhmmad published by a Danish newspaper. Kommersant cited sources from YuFO prosecutor’s office as saying that the formal reason for the request—which was sent by Kozak’s legal affairs assistant, Valery Napalkov—were items in various media, in particular an article published by Novye izvestia on February 8 reported that the Chechen authorities had banned the activities of the Danish Refugees Council and that the decision was final. While the Chechen government did not take any formal decision in this regard, the Danish Refugee Council subsequently curtailed its activities in the republic.

According to Kommersant, in his request to the YuFO division of the Prosecutor General’s Office, Napalkov asked for a determination as to whether the actions of the Chechen authorities were in line with international legal norms and said that measures in connection with violations of the law should, if necessary, be taken. Yet in the newspaper’s view, given that the Chechen government took no formal steps to ban the Danish council’s activities, the real goal that Kozak’s office had in filing the request was to create “a political effect”—that is, as an anonymous YuFO official told Kommersant, to show Ramzan Kadyrov that he is not Chechnya’s sole uncontested boss and must have his plans first approved by the federal authorities. According to the newspaper, the Chechen Parliament’s initiative to change Grozny’s name to “Akhmadkala” in honor of Akhmad Kadyrov last year (see Chechnya Weekly, December 15, 2005) was taken at Ramzan’s initiative without any prior consultations with the federal authorities, and was disavowed by the Chechen authorities only after Ramzan was “straightened out” in Moscow.

Chechen prime ministerial aide Igor Tarasov, for his part, said he did not understand what the Prosecutor General’s Office was investigating. “No official document exists banning the activities of the Danish council on the republic’s territory, therefore there is no subject for expert legal examination,” Tarasov told Kommersant.

Be that as it may, Dmitry Kozak confirmed on February 22 that federal prosecutors are examining the legality of the Chechen government’s ban on Danish organizations, RIA Novosti reported. In addition, Kozak told reporters that prosecutors are studying the legality of the introduction of mandatory study of the Koran and Sharia law in schools in Chechnya. Kozak specified that he had asked prosecutors to examine two press articles reporting that the mandatory study of the Koran and Sharia had been introduced in the republic’s schools.