Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 6 Issue: 22

Chechen President Alu Alkhanov told reporters in Moscow on June 6 that work on the treaty delimiting powers between Moscow and Chechnya is nearly completed. However, Kommersant reported the following day that the Kremlin had forced the Chechen side to give up on one of its main demands – that Chechnya be granted virtually exclusive control over its natural resources for ten years (see Chechnya Weekly, February 16).

According to the newspaper, in 2003, just after Akhmad Kadyrov was elected Chechnya’s president, the republican government had essentially agreed to drop demands for political freedom in exchange for “maximal economic sovereignty” – in particular, the right to dispose of Chechnya’s natural resources. Then Kremlin administration chief Aleksandr Voloshin supported such an agreement, but the treaty’s signing was delayed by Voloshin’s resignation in October 2003 and then by Kadyrov’s assassination in May 2004.

The more recent delays in signing the treaty may reflect Kremlin unhappiness with some of its main elements. Chechen State Council Head Taus Dzhabrailov told Kommersant that it was possible that the Kremlin was unhappy about several parts of the draft treaty and was seriously working it over. Dzhabrailov admitted that the section concerning Chechen control over natural resources would probably be dropped. “I have not yet seen the Kremlin’s redaction of the document, but I know that our desire to dispose of our own natural resources contradicts the new federal law,” he said, noting that the Chechen draft was written well before the passage of federal law No. 122, which puts the decision-making authority over the use of natural resources exclusively in the hands of the federal center.

Kommersant said that another provision in the Chechen draft, according to which the Chechen authorities would have complete control over military servicemen located in the republic, was “not realizable in practice.”