Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 3 Issue: 20

Evidence has begun to mount up that the FSB of Chechnya, headed by General Sergei Babkin, and other Russian power ministries have decided in the fairly near future to jettison the pro-Moscow chief of administration of Chechnya, Akhmad Kadyrov. Two factors appear to be impelling the FSB and the other power ministries to move in this direction: a desire to keep firm control of all Russian state funds earmarked for Chechnya, and a strong conviction that the republic must be ruled by Russians and Slavs, and not by Chechens.

The June 17 issue of Izvestia, a paper that often reflects the views of the FSB and the other Russian power ministries, carried a lengthy piece entitled “Second Front.” Featured in the piece was an interview with Yan (Yakov). Sergunin, a non-Russian convert to Islam who is both Kadyrov’s chief-of-staff and also a deputy prime minister of the republic. During the course of the interview, Sergunin complained bitterly that Stanislav Il’yasov, the pro-Moscow prime minister of Chechnya, was directly thwarting the republic’s economic recovery. “Kadyrov and Il’yasov,” Sergunin groused, “have from the beginning not been able to work together. At fault is the authoritarian style of the Il’yasov leadership…. The head of administration, Kadyrov, was appointed by the president of Russia, and he reports to the government and president [of Russia]. But his deputy head of government [Il’yasov], though he has been appointed by the head of administration [Kadyrov], reports to no one, which is incomprehensible, but the right of [financial] authorization is possessed by him alone.”

Asked about Sergunin’s harsh criticisms, Il’yasov replied that Sergunin was currently on leave and, according to his information, planned shortly to leave the republic altogether. “Only that,” Il’yasov declared, “can serve as a certain justification for what he has said. As for the right of financial authorization, there is a presidential decree giving me that right, and that decree is not subject to discussion. One person must answer for the finances in the economic system of the republic. In Chechnya, according to the president’s decree, that responsibility has been placed on me.”

This article in Izvestia suggested that elements in the Russian leadership were becoming acutely unhappy with Kadyrov and with his right-hand-man, Sergunin. On 27 June, the website Utro.ru, which often reflects the views of General Babkin’s FSB of Chechnya, reported that the Moscow-based chairman of the State Council of Chechnya, businessman Malik Saidullaev, owner of the “Russian Lotto” enterprise, had publicly announced that “he had the intention to advance his candidacy in the future elections for president of the [Chechen] republic.” Saidullaev made it clear that “he did not support Kadyrov.” “If the head of the republic worked more closely with the government [of Stanislav Il’yasov],” Saidullaev stated pointedly, “then that would lead to a bettering of the situation in Chechnya.” Saidullaev went on to propose that “the federal government take a cardinal step and place on the chairman of the government [Il’yasov] the duties of head of the republic until the [Chechen presidential] elections.” Saidullaev also noted that he had recently returned from Amman, Jordan, where he had obtained “the closing there of the representation of Aslan Maskhadov.” In the future, he said, he intended to travel to Iraq, Syria and Turkey, “where the existing Chechen representations will also be reregistered.”

In effect, Saidullaev has, with the presumed support of the SVR and the FSB, already taken certain of Kadyrov’s functions away from him. Saidullaev thus was being tipped as the emerging choice among the power ministries for Chechen head of state when elections (almost certainly to be rigged on the model of the recent vote in Ingushetia). will be held. Unlike the contentious Kadyrov, Saidullaev could be expected to be an obedient figurehead for continued rule over Chechnya by Il’yasov and the power ministers.

Recent press announcements appear to confirm such an analysis. It has been Il’yasov and not Kadyrov who has been featured in press reports visiting areas of Chechnya damaged by recent massive floods (Chechenskaya Respublika, July 2). And it has been announced that Sergei Abramov, an ethnic Russian who is reported to be close to Il’yasov and who has been serving as minister of finances for Chechnya-Kadyrov and Sergunin had sought to remove Abramov from his post-has been presented with an award by the Russian Ministry of Finances “for excellence in financial work” (Chechenskaya Respublika, July 2).

Not only is the position of Kadyrov becoming increasingly shaky, but it also seems evident that the Russian power ministries are now reconsidering the entire process known as “Chechenization.” The keystone of this process of Chechenization has been the formation of a pro-Moscow police force manned largely by ethnic Chechens. On July 5, AP reported, however, that “[a] senior official with the pro-Moscow Chechen government accused federal authorities on July 4 of sabotaging the transfer of policing duties to Chechen officers…. The [Russian] military regularly accuses some Chechen police officers of acting on behalf of rebels and say that rebels frequently try to infiltrate the police. Interfax reported on July 4 that several rebels were detained after applying for service in a riot police unit.”

In similar fashion, in an article appearing in the July 4 issue of the neo-fascist weekly Zavtra, entitled “Surrender of Chechnya,” journalist Vladislav Shurygin seemed to express the view of many in the Russian power ministries when he wrote: “Command and military analysts are concerned about the fact that the Kremlin is giving Kadyrov and his administration full authority over Chechnya. Chechen security structures are being hurriedly formed now. There are no serious checks on those entering these structures. A person should have a couple of references and a new Russian passport to get a new uniform and a certificate of the Russian Interior Ministry. This makes ideal conditions for gunmen who want to get into administrative structures of the Chechen Republic. Employees of law enforcement agencies working in Chechnya are openly saying that entire interior affairs directorates are fully controlled by Chechen gunmen” (Translated by WPS Monitoring Agency).

To conclude, the process of Chechenization appears to be on the verge of being derailed, though it is too early to say that this has in fact occurred. In place of Chechenization, the Russian power ministries seem to favor a policy of Russian and, especially, Soviet neo-colonialism that will relate to the Chechens, as Stalin did in 1944, as an expendable “punished people.”