The administration of Akhmad Kadyrov is now hinting that international humanitarian organizations may be forbidden to continue operating in Chechnya or Ingushetia. According to a January 10 report by Itar-Tass, the administration’s vice premier, Bilkhis Baidaev, said in an interview with that news agency that “For many of these organizations, their permits to work in the republic will expire on April 1. The extension of these permits is a matter within the competence of the federal center.” He also noted that many of the organizations do not have offices within Chechnya itself but instead use Ingushetia as their base of operations, which he (rightly) said reduces their effectiveness.
Baidaev’s words look very much like a propaganda ploy. On just about every other issue, he and his colleagues are eager to claim as many powers as possible for their own administration. But on this one, it would seem that he is laying the groundwork for keeping foreign relief workers out of Chechnya while placing the blame for that decision on Moscow. Also, humanitarian and human rights organizations have complained in the past that they would like to have offices based directly in Chechnya, but that the administrations of both Kadyrov and Russian President Vladimir Putin have made that difficult or impossible.
This latest maneuver would fit well with Putin’s and Kadyrov’s continuing campaign to force Chechen refugees out of Ingushetia back into their homeland. It could lead to a situation in which the refugees are physically cut off from independent agencies trying to help meet their needs–thus placing them even more at the mercies of Kadyrov and his circle.