Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 5 Issue: 39

In what appears to be another case of his impulsively talking before thinking, Ramzan Kadyrov announced last week that the president of Chechnya’s underground separatist government was about to surrender. Though other pro-Kremlin leaders either remained silent about the young Kadyrov’s claims or took pains to distance themselves from them, Ramzan boldly asserted that Aslan Maskhadov was actively seeking an intermediary, such as a governor of one of Russia’s southern provinces, to arrange terms for his giving himself up to the federal authorities.

Alu Alkhanov, however, expressed agreement with Ramzan’s strong stand against any kind of negotiations with Maskhadov—against any offer of amnesty or other concessions as an inducement for the separatist leader to surrender. An October 22 article by Aliya Samigullina and Ilya Barabanov published by Gazeta.ru judged that Alkhanov had significantly hardened his line on this question since his recent installation as the new head of Chechnya’s pro-Moscow administration. The article quoted Alkhanov as insisting that Maskhadov was on wanted lists as an “organizer of illegal armed formations” and of “major terrorist attacks” and that therefore he should be forced to “appear before a court.” The only advance promise which Alkhanov was willing to offer was to guarantee Maskhadov’s personal safety during the period between his surrender and the beginning of his criminal trial.

Meanwhile, Alkhanov, in an apparent move to concentrate more power in his own hands, has signed a decree naming Ziyad Sabsabi as a vice-premier, and reappointing him as the administration’s representative in Moscow. Vladlen Maksimov wrote in Novye izvestia on October 25 that “this combination of posts means that under the new president the office of representative [in Moscow] is acquiring a special status: Ziyad Sabsabi is becoming the only official lobbyist of the Chechen Republic in Moscow.”

On the other hand, Ramzan Kadyrov was appointed last week as an adviser to Dmitri Kozak, Vladimir Putin’s representative to the Southern Federal District. As Maksimov observed, “in this capacity he will hardly be subordinate to Alkhanov.” But the goal of the new appointment might be to place the unpredictable Ramzan more closely “under the strict control of the federal center.”