Chechnya’s civilian and military administrations may be merged–if, that is, Viktor Kazantsev, President Vladimir Putin’s representative in the Southern federal district, gets his way. The Security Council, the powerful Kremlin advisory body, will at the end of February consider proposals made by Kazantsev for “modernizing” the system for managing Chechnya. According to Kazantsev, two processes are taking place in Chechnya today–the “antiterrorist operation” and the reconstruction of the economy. These processes, he argues, sometimes contradict one another: for example, antirebel “zachistki” (mopping-up operations) close roads, which interferes with the transportation of goods. Thus he has called for merging the republic’s military and civilian leadership and putting it under the direction of a special federal deputy prime minister.
According to Kazantsev’s plan, an operational headquarters based in Rostov-on-Don, which is also the headquarters for the Southern federal district, would be in charge of Chechnya’s joint civilian-military leadership, and he, Kazantsev, would be in overall charge of that leadership. Most importantly, this would mean that all the federal funds for the military operation and for rebuilding Chechnya would pass through this operational headquarters. Practically all the federal ministries–including the Federal Security Service (FSB), which is in charge of the military operation in Chechnya–are reportedly against Kazantsev’s “modernization” plans, though, somewhat strangely, the Defense Ministry is said to support them. Kazantsev’s office is reportedly locked in a related battle with the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, headed by German Gref, for control over a federal program called “Russia’s South,” which involves 154 billion rubles (some US$3 billion) in federal funds. Not surprisingly, Kazantsev wants this program to be controlled from Rostov-on-Don, and Gref wants it controlled from Moscow (Vremya Novostei, February 19).
Meanwhile, General-Lieutenant Vladimir Moltenskoi, commander of the Russian forces in Chechnya, was quoted yesterday as saying that “as long as the bandits are not done away with in Chechnya, it will not be possible to resolve the issue of rebuilding the economy and civilian life” in the republic (RIA Novosti, February 19).
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