Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov has refused the services of policemen assigned to Chechnya (www.kp.ru, March 14). It is his first truly significant move since the counter-terrorist operation (CTO) in Chechnya officially ended on April 16, 2009 (www.rosbalt.ru, April 16, 2009). Kadyrov would not have announced that he no longer wanted policemen from other regions sent to the republic had he not received Moscow’s approval to do so. According to Kadyrov, special operations and OMON units summoned from all corners of Russia are bringing nothing to the republic other than problems. Their efforts to detain militants are fruitless. Generally, they are positioned in such a way that they would not be attacked by the militants; one has to protect them from possible militant assaults.
It is worth noting that those forces are stationed along the major highways of the republic, which makes one think that nothing has changed in the republic after the official ending of the CTO. For Kadyrov, who is trying to create the illusion of a paradise in Chechnya, roadblocks create a bad image. It is also worth noting that not a single militant was detained at such roadblocks since the beginning of the second Chechen War in the fall of 1999. They put psychological pressure more on the local population than on the militants. Very few militants thought of using the republic’s highways for fear of being caught at Russian roadblocks.
The tradition of units from other Russian regions being sent to Chechnya dates back to the first Chechen War. In reality, this practice meant two things: distrust of the local authorities, and an attempt to control the situation in the republic in a way that bypasses Chechnya’s police forces. These units were sent to Chechnya literally from all parts of Russia: Khabarovsk, the Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, Vladivostok, Kaliningrad, St. Petersburg, Moscow, Kazan, Omsk, etc. Each region, krai or republic had to send its detached battalion to police Chechnya for six months twice annually.
Large federal regions like Tatarstan or Moscow were tasked with sending several detachments. The total number of such detachments is kept secret, but it is likely that thousands of policemen arrive in Chechnya knowing virtually nothing about the customs and traditions of the Chechen people. However, it is profitable for the policemen who are sent, because each day counts as three in terms of salary.
Kadyrov intends to make a request to the Russian interior ministry to stop sending the detachments from other regions and spend the money saved on increasing the staff of Chechnya’s interior ministry (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, March 14). His idea to increase the size of the staff of the Chechen interior ministry is unlikely to be rejected; even though the number of Chechen policemen varies from 17,000 to 27,000, it looks like Moscow will approve Kadyrov’s request. After increasing its police staff by perhaps two thousand, Chechnya will become a republic where policing will be one of the major occupations. It is unlikely that any other profession in the republic has such a large number of people.
Not everyone agrees with Kadyrov on the need to end sending police units from other regions to Chechnya. According to Mikhail Grishankov, the first deputy head of the State Duma’s Security Committee, it is premature to end the deployment of policemen from various regions to Chechnya (Ekho Moskvy, March 13).
Meanwhile, the security situation in Chechnya has not changed dramatically. Kadyrov, not for the first time, has called for a “decisive approach” to the militants. The first time the Chechen authorities made such a call was in May 2009 when, in a bid to catch armed underground leader Doku Umarov, the Chechen and Ingush siloviki conducted operations along the administrative border of Chechnya and Ingushetia. The Ingush government apparently got tired of the shameless interference of their Chechen neighbors. This time the Ingush authorities said “Thank you. We can handle it ourselves.” In response, Kadyrov publicly criticized Ingushetia’s President Yunus-bek Yevkurov (www.chechnya.gov.ru, September 29, 2009).
Kadyrov’s latest attacks on the militants are absolutely identical to his previous efforts, replete with dead bodies of alleged terrorists and detentions of alleged militants and their supporters, all conducted in front of the television cameras and with obligatory expressions of gratitude to Kadyrov for personally leading the operation. In recent years, such scenes have become a trademark of Chechen television.
On March 11, four alleged militants were killed during a special operation conducted in the mountainous part of Chechnya. It appears that police stumbled upon a group of militants in the vicinity of the Shatoi district settlement of Nokhch-Keloi. Otherwise, it is hard to explain how the policemen (who, as they themselves admit, generally do not go deep into the woods) managed to come across the militants. According to them, it is a game of who shoots first. This view, expressed by one of the participants in that operation shows that Kadyrov’s decisiveness and the policemen’s desire to fight are two different things (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, March 12).
The siloviki, who themselves take part in operations, say that they do not risk going deep into the woods where the militants’ main bases are located. They prefer to wait for the militants for several weeks until they accidentally run into them.
In Chechnya, two servicemen with a special unit of the Russian interior ministry from Ufa were killed during an operation. They were identified as Corporal Malofeyev and warrant officer Giyarov (Interfax, March 14). The incident occurred on the administrative border of Chechnya and Ingushetia, in the vicinity of the settlement of Bamut. This is the second case in the last month in which this unit has endured losses; in February, four other members of this brigade died under similar circumstances.
All of these recent events provide a clear picture of the real Chechnya, without retouching. They also muffle the rapturous cries about reconstructed Grozny. This means that there will be a third, fourth and even more “decisive attacks” on the militants by the authorities, but the result will be the same as after the first and the second Chechen wars.