Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 4 Issue: 37

Clearly attempting to exploit his post-election-day momentum, Kadyrov told a Moscow press conference that all Interior Ministry troops in Chechnya should be organized under a single command–with those of the federal ministry placed “if not in direct subordination, then under the direction of the Interior Ministry of Chechnya.” In short, as Andrei Riskin concluded in an analysis for the October 13 issue of Nezavisimaya gazeta, Kadyrov is laying claim to unite all the pro-Moscow security forces in the republic under his own command.

A Moscow journalist who recently returned from Grozny predicted in an October 14 conversation with Chechnya Weekly that one of Kadyrov’s most difficult problems will be his rivalry with the Russian security agencies. The latter “do not have an interest in the establishment of a legitimate civilian authority,” he said. The journalist conceded that Kadyrov might choose to join forces with one of the Russian agencies against the others, but insisted that this has not yet happened. If it does, he said, Kadyrov’s most likely such ally would be the federal Interior Ministry or the Federal Security Service (FSB), not the Defense Ministry.

Meanwhile, the Kadyrov administration is using the scandal over misallocated compensation payments for destroyed homes in Chechnya as a justification for seizing control of the subsidies from local district administrations. Abubakar Baibatyrov, head of the administration’s committee for compensation and refugee affairs, told Interfax on October 9 that “we have decided to accept documents directly from citizens, bypassing the district authorities.”

The Moscow journalist who spoke with Chechnya Weekly on October 14 said that, in his view, Kadyrov had an excellent chance of further centralizing the control of budget and spending decisions within Chechnya. (He noted that this development would in itself leave untouched the problem of corruption within Kadyrov’s own circle.) The journalist predicted that Kadyrov would face a much more difficult fight in trying to seize control of the massive subsidies from the federal government for Chechnya’s social and economic reconstruction. He calculated that 80 percent of these funds never even reach Chechnya but are instead diverted by corrupt federal agencies.

In what may be a case of over reaching, Kadyrov said that eventually he would be seeking restoration of the old Chechen-Ingush republic as a unified political and administrative unit within the Russian Federation. “I am not raising that question at present,” he said, “but it is a matter of time. I think this question will arise in the future, insofar as these [the Chechens and the Ingush] are two brother nations.” If Kadyrov does indeed push for this goal, he will be pitting himself directly against the current Ingush administration of Murat Zyazikov–and against the Russian FSB, the agency within which Zyazikov spent most of his career and which helped plant him in his current position. (Zyazikov reacted quickly to Kadyrov’s trial balloon, stating on October 13 that “at this point I do not see the possibility of such a unification; it is not necessary for the Chechens themselves.”)

Nevertheless, the Moscow journalist just back from Grozny suggested that the reunification of Chechnya and Ingushetia was not impossible. From the Kremlin’s point of view, he said, it would be politically useful to have the name “Chechnya” disappear from the political map–and to make irrelevant the controversy over the disputed border between the two republics. Such a change would also slash, at the stroke of a pen, the number of “refugees” formally listed as having been forcibly displaced away from their home province–not that it would make any practical difference for the refugees themselves.