Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 4 Issue: 36

In his first major post-election interview, Kadyrov made it clear that he will be seeking a greater share of the income from Chechnya’s oil resources, as well as more control over taxes and customs. “Chechnya does not need any special status, the main thing is to gain broad economic powers,” he said in the interview reported by the website Newsru.com on October 6. He set the end of this calendar year as a goal for reaching and signing a final agreement with Moscow about how to divide powers between the republic and the federal center.

The Chechen strongman declined to specify when he would like to see parliamentary elections in the republic, answering that they might take place in 2004–“though perhaps earlier, or later.”

Confirming what many have suspected, Kadyrov said that “all” of the nearly 200 former rebel guerrillas who have been amnestied since June are now serving as gunmen in the force commanded by his son Ramzan. He predicted that the pace of such amnesties would now intensify.

On the other hand, Kadyrov hinted that a new mechanism that he plans to create may become a vehicle for settling accounts with his old enemies. He said that he intended to create a commission for investigating all the “crimes” that have taken place in Chechnya over the last twelve years–that is, ever since the collapse of Soviet power.

Kadyrov said that he had no plans to replace his prime minister Anatoly Popov or to make major changes in his current cabinet. But in a subsequent interview, published by Kommersant on October 7, he made it clear that he intends to continue tightening his control over the republic’s bureaucracy. With the March constitutional referendum, he said, “I became acting president and since then I have decided all personnel questions….If I am head of the republic, then my people should be everywhere….If [officials] are going to call their bosses each time and ask, ‘Kadyrov has given me such and such an order, what do you say, should I carry it out or not’–that I do not need. In the future I am going to be even tougher. Nothing else is possible, they must be totally subordinate to the president.”

The Kommersant interview also produced more detail about the Chechen strongman’s plans for gaining control of the republic’s energy resources. He said that Chechnya should have its own oil company, one that would ensure “all tax and customs revenues will remain within the republic.”

As for the scandal surrounding compensation payments to Chechen civilians for homes destroyed by military action, Kadyrov said that he would temporarily suspend such payments pending the results of an investigation.