Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 199

Chechen president Aslan Maskhadov has asked the republic’s parliament to grant him special powers for a two-year period. Maskhadov says it is necessary for him to have the right to suspend laws passed by parliament, to make changes in the composition of the cabinet, and to appoint and dismiss government officials. He said he also requires the right to issue presidential decrees and directives as long as these "do not contradict the state sovereignty and independence of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria." (Russian agencies, October 22)

The powers requested by Maskhadov are similar to those already wielded by President Boris Yeltsin. Under Russia’s 1993 Constitution, the Russian president can appoint and remove the "power ministers" and the minister of justice, and has the right to veto laws passed by the Russian parliament. Such parallels in Moscow’s and Grozny’s domestic politics have been observed before. For example, the late Chechen president Djohar Dudaev approved the dissolution of the Russian parliament in October, 1993, saying that Yeltsin was taking advantage of the Chechen experience. (In May, 1993, Dudaev dissolved Grozny’s city assembly and disbanded the Constitutional Court.) Maskhadov may decide to go even further than Yeltsin. Thus, it cannot be ruled out that, by asking for the power to declare an economic state of emergency, Maskhadov may be planning to concentrate financial and economic power in order to create a state-controlled economy in place of the market economy currently existing in Chechnya. (Russian agencies, October 22) This would make the republic’s independence the only limit to presidential power.

Yesterday it was announced that Maskhadov had sacked a number of senior economic officials, including Deputy Prime Minister Musa Doshukaev, Economy Minister Isa Astemirov, and the head of the tax service. Maskhadov also dismissed the president of the Southern Oil Company (YUNKO), Khozh-Akhmed Yarikhanov, and disbanded the company itself, setting up instead four state concerns answerable to Maskhadov personally. (Russian agencies, October 23)

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