Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 230

Chechen president Aslan Maskhadov, who under the Chechen constitution is head of both state and government, announced yesterday that he intends to launch a far-reaching government reorganization. (Russian agencies, December 9) Maskhadov has already agreed to share some of his powers with First Deputy Premier Shamil Basaev. Basaev will preside over cabinet meetings and manage the economy, with the power to issue decrees and directives. Basaev has already used his new powers: last week, he fired the Deputy Minister of the food industry, accusing her of abuse of office and reprimanding the deputy premier responsible for overseeing that ministry. As for Maskhadov, he is to devote more time to political issues, a government spokesman said. The president retains the nominal leadership of the "power" ministries and the National Bank. (Segodnya, December 9)

There have been regular predictions in the Russian media that Maskhadov, whom the Kremlin perceives as relatively open to compromise, would be forced to give ground to more radical Chechen leaders. From the Kremlin’s standpoint, Basaev is one of the most hated figures in the Chechen leadership. Any expansion of his powers is, from Moscow’s point of view, evidence of the increasing influence of radicals in Chechnya.

Chechen Women Arrested on Suspicion of Arms Smuggling.