Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 4 Issue: 15

Some 366.8 million rubles (about US$12.2 million) in federal subsidies to Chechnya have been spent for purposes other than those intended, the head of the Russian parliament’s audit chamber announced on April 19. Sergei Stepashin stressed that this does not mean that this entire sum was simply stolen–but the auditors have found that some 21 million of it was indeed stolen, according to an article by Petr Orekhin in the April 21 issue of Nezavisimaya gazeta. A criminal investigation is now underway. It is one of more than a hundred current investigations into thefts from the state treasury in Chechnya.

Orekhin’s colleague at Nezavisimaya gazeta, Andrei Riskin, has analyzed another of the estimates provided by Stepashin: his calculation that it will be necessary for Russia to invest 25 billion rubles a year for the next five or six years to put Chechnya back on its feet. Riskin asked whether Russia’s national budget could bear such a burden. And added to this, he said, should be another 25 billion rubles in the form of compensation for housing destroyed during the second Chechen war alone, not counting the first. Even if most of the Chechen families eligible do in fact receive the 240,000 rubles (about $8,000) apiece to which they are theoretically entitled, there is yet another problem. It is that “in the current, criminalized situation in the republic, to receive such a large sum in cash is tantamount to voluntarily placing one’s head in a guillotine.”