Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliev told a closed-door session of the State Duma on May 19 that the technique of planting a bomb deep in the very concrete structure of a building was new to his colleagues in Russia’s security agencies. As reported by Novye Izvestia on May 20, Nurgaliev added that five of the workmen who took part in the Dinamo stadium’s rebuilding have disappeared, but did not mention that this would be the prudent thing for them to do even if they are completely innocent.
Further awkwardness for the Kremlin came when Nurgaliev and Prosecutor General Sergei Fridinsky contradicted each other about the state of the criminal investigation into the May 9 bombing: The former said that arrests had been made, the latter denied such reports.
Nurgaliev also confirmed that the death of Akhmad Kadyrov and other recent events have had a serious impact on the military situation in the rebellious republic. He said that Vladimir Putin had signed an order to increase by more than a thousand the number of troops in Chechnya from the federal interior ministry.
However, according to a May 21 article in Nezavisimaya Gazeta by Vladimir Mukhin and Andrei Riskin, the troop increase will in fact come not from new transfers to Chechnya from elsewhere in the Russian Federation, but rather from reclassifying members of the local militia as federal personnel. Those local servicemen are of course loyal to Ramzan Kadyrov; by “legalizing” members of the Kadyrov family’s private army in this fashion, Moscow is sending a powerful signal of support to Ramzan. Political analyst Dmitri Oreshkin of the “Merkator” group in Moscow told the two Nezavisimaya Gazeta correspondents that “the Kremlin is now in a no-win situation.” “To stop placing their bets on the Kadyrov clan would be to admit that earlier they made a huge strategic blunder,” Oreshkin said. “Though they recognize within the Kremlin that things have not turned out well, nevertheless the president believes that he cannot pull back now because it would be seen as an admission of defeat.”
Provocatively, Oreshkin also suggested that what wounded 60 people at Grozny’s Dinamo stadium on May 9 was not the bomb that killed Akhmad Kadyrov, but rather shooting by Kadyrov’s own bodyguards. He pointed out that the scenes of the episode aired soon thereafter on Russian television showed the guards firing wildly even though no terrorists were visible. He suggested that their panicked reaction was yet one more sign of the Kadyrov family’s accelerating decline in popularity within Chechnya.