Kadyrov Again Expresses Unhappiness with Oil Revenue Distribution

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 8 Issue: 29

In an interview with Izvestia published on July 13, Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov reiterated and ratcheted up his complaints about what he sees as the federal authorities’ unfair distribution of revenues from oil extracted and refined in Chechnya (Chechnya Weekly, November 2, 2006). “For example, oil is brought back to Kabardino-Balkaria, where it is refined and sold,” he told the newspaper. “Why should jobs be created only there? Why did Rosneft [the Russia state-owned oil company, which has an affiliate in Chechnya] register its company in Moscow and not in Grozny, and why doesn’t it pay taxes here? If you take the money for the oil, then we receive less than 500 million rubles [$19.65 million] for the two million-odd tons of oil extracted here.”

Kadyrov complained that Chechnya does not have enough money for reconstruction. “Everything is destroyed here, but funds are not being provided,” he told Izvestia. “The federal center takes away our revenues – oil, taxes. They take this and they take that and they say to us: Come on, rebuild. We ask for so much money, and they do not give a single ruble. If you ask for 15 billion rubles ($590 million), they give you 5 billion. That’s the kind of incomprehensible system we have…If we want to serve the people, we must do everything so that the people live happily … Therefore we are forced to take loans, to go into debt, in order to do something, otherwise tomorrow the people will come out and say: why do we need you? In the most difficult times, the people came out and supported us. They said once and for all that they will live as part of Russia…If there were such a situation with financing in other regions, everyone would come out onto the streets and protest, but we just wait and wait.”

Following a meeting in Moscow with Ravil Gaynutdin, the head of the Russian Council of Muftis, on July 18, Kadyrov declared that Chechnya has no problems “on a sectarian level,” RIA Novosti reported. “We build mosques, churches,” he told journalists. “We do not repudiate anybody; on the contrary, we support believers.” Kadyrov added that it is a good thing if a person is a believer. “It is bad, on the contrary, if they do not believe,” he said. “Then they are a dangerous person.” According to RIA Novosti, Kadyrov noted that there are mosques “everywhere” in Chechnya as well as Orthodox churches, adding that a 10,000-person capacity mosque is currently under construction in Grozny. “There isn’t even one like it in Europe,” he said. “We call it ‘the heart of Chechnya.’” Kadyrov declared that Muslims had preserved Russia’s integrity in the 21st century and had sacrificed tens of thousands of lives in doing so. “We are not indifferent to Russia’s fate,” he said. Muslims “should not hide their faces” but should “talk proudly of their faith and of their Russian citizenship,” he said. “Muslims occupy a worthy place in Russia, and we all defend the interests of Muslims and the Russian people.”

Kadyrov’s comments about mosques and churches followed his announcement on July 13 that he was giving an order to build an Orthodox church in the Chechen village of Shelkovskaya and reconstruct another in the village of Nurskaya. He also said that the Chechen government and the charitable fund headed by his mother, Aimani Kadyrova, would assist Orthodox congregations in Chechnya. “On no account do I intend to divide the people of the Chechen Republic, there is the need to build religious edifices, they will be built without delay.”

The separatist Kavkaz-Center website posted a commentary on July 13 quoting Kadyrov’s announcement of his plans to build and restore Orthodox churches and charged that “the occupation regime” is carrying a policy of “Christianization” in Chechnya. “To that end, military settlements headed by priests of the Russian Orthodox Church are being created in Chechnya, and the priests themselves are actively participating in punitive operations against Muslims in Ingushetia and Chechnya,” the Kavkaz-Center commentary claimed.