Though the Kremlin’s official line continues to be an unwavering refusal to negotiate with Aslan Maskhadov, Akhmad Kadyrov’s son and the head of his security service said some surprisingly pleasant things last week about Chechnya’s underground separatist president. According to a March 23 article by Oliver Bullough of Reuters, Ramzan Kadyrov said that Maskhadov would be welcome to join the Kadyrov administration if he should change sides. “He is a good military man, let him train our soldiers,” said the younger Kadyrov. “We need such people and it’s right to make use of them.”
Ramzan often speaks first and thinks later, but precisely because of that habit his statement may reveal ideas that his father would have shared without yet wanting to make them public. The older Kadyrov may hope to consolidate as many as possible of the separatist guerrillas around his own administration and thus to strengthen still further his independence from Moscow.
Last week the senior Kadyrov also renewed his determined campaign to place all the “counter-terrorist” operations in Chechnya under the control of his own interior ministry. According to a March 26 report on the Grani.ru website, Kadyrov said that he plans to discuss this question when he meets this week with Rashid Nurgaliev, the new federal minister of the interior. “I intend to have just one structure, from which I can demand answers,” he said.
Grani.ru commented that if and when Kadyrov finally succeeds in consolidating all power within Chechnya in his own hands, he will enjoy “the forced tolerance of Putin, insofar as Moscow already has neither the military, political, or financial resources for yet one more confrontation with Grozny.”
And in yet another sign that the Putin administration is sticking with its commitment to Kadyrov despite objections from many in Russia’s military and security agencies, the federal accounting chamber has made it clear that Kadyrov is not currently considered a suspect in the investigation into misuse of federal subsidies in Chechnya. Sergei Stepashin, head of the auditing chamber, told the NTV television network in a program broadcast on March 28 that his agency has concrete claims against about forty bureaucrats in Grozny and in Moscow–but not against Kadyrov. Among the abuses he cited: Some 47,000 Chechen families were supposed to have been given apartments to replace those destroyed by the war, but only 2,000 have in fact received them.