Publication: Monitor Volume: 7 Issue: 193

Akhmad Kadyrov, head of the pro-Moscow administration in Chechnya, issued a decree yesterday dissolving the joint apparatus of the republic’s administration and government and replacing it with a structure directly subordinated to him. After issuing the decree, Kadyrov downplayed the significance of the change, saying it was simply aimed at streamlining the republic’s ruling bodies by getting rid of structures with overlapping functions, and said it should not have a negative effect on Prime Minister Stanislav Il’yasov, the head of the republic’s government. Il’yasov, however, denounced the decree as “a real provocation,” charging that it had been foisted on Kadyrov by unnamed “blockheads” and warning that the changes would bring only “turmoil” to the government’s work (Kommersant, October 19).

In fact, Kadyrov’s decision was the culmination of a long period of tension and bureaucratic competition between Chechnya’s administration and government, during which officials close to Kadyrov complained that their counterparts in the government had seized the bulk of the republic’s bureaucratic and financial power. The government apparatus’s dominance over that of the administration was facilitated by a decree signed by President Vladimir Putin in January of this year, “On organizing executive power in the Chechen Republic,” which essentially gave Il’yasov’s government the lion’s share of power. After months of trying to change this state of affairs, Kadyrov managed to win an audience with Putin earlier this week, during which the head of state, who had apparently decided to withdraw his support for Il’yasov, gave Kadyrov a green light to reorganize Chechnya’s government and administration.

In dissolving the old apparatus, Kadyrov fired its head–Viktor Aleksenintsev, whom Il’yasov had brought with him from Stavropol. In his place, Kadyrov named Yan Sergunin, former head of the judicial department of Chechnya’s Supreme Court. According to Kadyrov, Sergunin, a lieutenant general who converted to Islam after working in Chechnya for two years, was recommended for the new post by the Kremlin administration.

Kadyrov informed officials of Il’yasov’s government of the bureaucratic changes during a meeting in Djohar (Grozny), the Chechen capital. Judging by the accounts of participants, the meeting was emblematic of the ethnic tensions in the republic. Kadyrov arrived at the meeting accompanied by sixty armed guards, who set up three protective circles around the administration chief and, according to one eyewitness, “very crudely searched everybody.” Kadyrov proceeded to accuse officials in Il’yasov’s government, who are mainly ethnic Russians, of having come to Chechnya simply to make money, saying that they left their families behind in safer regions and cared nothing for Chechnya. Kadyrov included Il’yasov, who was in Moscow yesterday and thus not in attendance, in his attack, and promised to talk to the prime minister later and “figure out what he [Il’yasov] is doing here.” Kadyrov claimed that he had repeatedly refused to send his own family to safety outside Chechnya. “I am not [Movladi] Udugov or [Aslan] Maskhadov,” Kadyrov said, referring respectively to the former Chechen rebel foreign minister and the Chechen rebel leader, “who, having sent their children to safety, demand that others die in order to end up in Paradise.” Kadyrov also lashed out at the heads of the republic’s law enforcement organs, who, he charged, had allowed “a wave of ‘banditism'” to hit “practically all” of Chechnya’s villages, towns and cities.

The atmosphere during the meeting was reportedly tense. According to one account, “all of the non-Chechen employees [of the government] understood from Mr. Kadyrov’s demarche that he was giving them the sack but no one dared speak out under the barrels of automatic weapons” (Vremya Novostei, October 19; Gazeta.ru, October 18).

Meanwhile, Nikolai Sleptsov, deputy presidential representative in the Southern federal district, said yesterday that the federal government’s program to rebuild Chechnya had collapsed and that money earmarked for reconstruction there had been badly used. During a meeting held in Rostov-on-Don concerning the federal government’s efforts to rebuild Chechnya, Sleptsov said that out of 10 billion rubles (more than US$300 million) allocated for rebuilding the republic’s economy and social sphere, less than 700 million rubles (some US$23.8 million) had been spent. He said that only a fraction of the money allocated for restoring schools and medical facilities had been spent, and that Chechnya’s industrial enterprises, systems of roads and air travel had not been rebuilt (Rosbalt, October 19). Since the 1994-1996 military campaign in Chechnya, federal efforts to rebuild the war-torn republic have largely failed and been accompanied by widespread accusations that Chechen reconstruction funds were misappropriated and embezzled, both in Chechnya and Moscow.