Akhmad Kadyrov continues to pursue the transfer of command authority from the Russian military to himself. According to a February 17 article by Vladlen Maksimov in Novye izvestia, Kadyrov told a Grozny press conference the previous day that leadership of the “anti-terrorist operation” in the republic should be in the hands of his own administration’s interior ministry. He said that this ministry currently had an ample supply of “experienced officers and young recruits who have now received training.”
“By the former,” commented Maksimov, “is apparently meant the rebel guerrillas who have received amnesty; according to the Russian federal procuracy these already compose as many as 60 percent of the personnel of Chechnya’s interior ministry. By the second is meant the Chechen leader’s own sons, who command his personal security force.” The reporter found that key figures of the Russian security establishment, such as Mikhail Grishankov who chairs the Duma’s committee on national security, continue to oppose Kadyrov’s ambitions.
Even more sharply critical of Kadyrov than federal parliamentary or executive leaders was Aleksei Malashenko, a specialist in the Caucasus and in Islamic issues for the Carnegie Foundation’s office in Moscow. “If this [Kadyrov’s proposal] should be put into effect, Kadyrov will definitively be transformed into a local princeling with unlimited powers,” Malashenko told Maksimov. “Such a decision would sharpen tensions not only in the highlands but even in Chechnya’s relatively peaceful flatlands. I think that the Moscow ‘siloviki’ will not let it happen, since they know perfectly well that it’s necessary to keep some control over Kadyrov.”