Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 6 Issue: 36

Chechen First Deputy Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov claimed on September 22 that Chechnya’s religious establishment bears “moral responsibility” for what is going on in the republic, Interfax reported. “The clergy to a significant degree is guilty for the fact young people are dying” on both sides of the conflict, Kadyrov told journalists in Gudermes. “When they (religious figures) need something personally for themselves, they masquerade as the most honored people, passing themselves off as the heads of teips, the relatives of sheikhs, but in fact they do nothing to explain to young people the perniciousness of joining the illegal armed formations, the perniciousness of carrying out an armed struggle against their own people. If they worked sufficiently with the youth, everything would have been settled long ago and the military actions would have been ended…For far-fetched reasons, religious figures and the official clergy are not conducting daily explanatory work among the youth, are not appearing daily on the television channels, the radio or the pages of the newspapers with sermons. I have repeatedly spoken with religious figures, asked them to settle down to this work, however there has not been the proper result.”

Kadyrov said if the “genuine requirements” of Islam are not explained to the Chechen people, “nothing will turn out and there will be no positive results.” He added: “There are even individual media, individual sources, who charge that I am secretly spreading sharia, citing the fact that I am demanding that the clergy carry out explanatory work.”

Kadyrov also called for putting all special operations in Chechnya under the command of the Chechen Interior Ministry and said that policemen from other Russian regions were not needed in Chechnya, Ekho Moskvy reported on September 22. He said he had already spoken about this with federal Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliev. State Duma speaker Boris Gryzlov told the radio station he supported Kadyrov’s initiative, while Vladimir Katrenko, head of the State Duma’s commission on the North Caucasus, said all the pros and cons should be weighed before a final decision is made. Russian Human Rights Commissioner Vladimir Lukin called Kadyrov’s idea “strange and peculiar,” telling Ekho Moskvy “we still do not have Interior Ministry units based on the ethnic or regional principle” and warning that there is already “a dangerous tendency” for units of various law-enforcement agencies stationed in Chechnya to “turn into peculiar formations whose subordination is not clear.”

Meanwhile, utro.ru suggested in a commentary that Ramzan Kadyrov’s relationship with the federal center is increasingly a case of the tail wagging the dog. “It seems that the Russian power structure will soon have a new problem—how to neutralize its principal ally in Chechnya, Hero of Russia Ramzan Kadyrov, who to all intents and purposes heads the republic’s main enforcement structures,” the website wrote. “Today, exactly a month after Vladimir Putin signed the decree on elections for the Chechen Republic’s parliament, Kadyrov is taking steps to earn the image of the father of his nation. He is voicing slogans that Chechens understand, and at the same time he is calling for reconciliation. He invites Mike Tyson to Chechnya and accompanies his guest everywhere—everyone should see what kind of friends he has! … [T]he Kremlin finds itself in a no-win situation. Ramzan Kadyrov is truly a valuable ally of the federal center, if only because he is an enemy of its enemies, who are fighting by terrorist methods to withdraw from the structure of Russia. The partisan war on the territory of Chechnya will continue—it is not clear what could stop it, since no political resolution to the conflict has been seen. But it is possible to avoid full-scale military operations. So it is necessary to conduct complicated games with Ramzan Kadyrov, who is quietly blackmailing Moscow for the sake of the consolidation of his personal power in the republic.” Utro.ru predicted that “people from Kadyrov’s clan” would wind up controlling Chechnya’s parliament.