Medvedev and Kadyrov: The Start of a Beautiful Friendship?

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 9 Issue: 13

Kavkazky Uzel, citing the press service of the Chechen president and government, reported on April 2 that President-elect Dmitry Medvedev and Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov met and discussed issues related to the socio-economic development of the Chechen Republic. reported that the meeting took place in the Kremlin and that during a portion of the meeting that was open to the press, they discussed changes that have taken place in Chechnya over the past year. “Let’s talk about the whole complex of issues: how work to develop the republic’s socio-economic potential is going; what achievements [and] what problems there are,” the website quoted Medvedev as saying in opening the meeting.

“There are many positive aspects,” Kadyrov was quoted as saying during his meeting with Medvedev. “We are reconstructing the republic and not only the cities, but also remote mountain villages.” Interfax quoted Kadyrov as saying that reconstruction funds had already been found and that a number of the republic’s districts have already been completely reconstructed. “If last year we reconstructed dwellings, then this year we want to raise the economy [and] solve social problems,” he said. “This year we have taken a priority direction—industry and agriculture. Kadyrov said that thanks to national projects—which Medvedev has been in charge of during his tenure a first deputy prime minister—most issues in the area of health care and education have been resolved. “Technical aspects remain that we must resolve ourselves,” he said. Kadyrov said that the Chechen people have found support from the federal authorities and visa versa.

For his part, Medvedev promised Kadyrov to render active assistance in transferring certain federal installations over to the Chechen authorities’ ownership; in allocating spare bank credits for investment in Chechnya’s economy and social sphere; in speeding up the process of conferring the status of an international airport on the Grozny Airport; in regularizing the activities of Grozneftegaz, the Chechen state energy company that is 51 percent owned by the Russian state oil company Rosneft; in paying off debts accrued in fulfilling extra-programmatic activities in 2006-2007; and in allocating to the republic funds for paying compensation for homes lost during Chechnya’s wars.

Medvedev also noted the rapid tempo of housing construction in Chechnya. “It is good that a large quantity of dwellings is being built,” Itar-Tass quoted him as telling Kadyrov. “That was the case last year, when I visited you in the republic and, as I understand it, the same pace is being continued this year. This is very important for the reconstruction of the republic.” Kadyrov said in response: “We did a whole lot in a year with your help; I hope to do even more this year.”

Commenting on the meeting, political observer Ruslan Saidov said: “Dmitry Medvedev undoubtedly realizes that Ramzan Kadyrov and his military sub-units are the basic guarantees of relative stability in both Chechnya itself and the neighboring regions of the North Caucasus. For his part, Kadyrov at this juncture is vitally interested in positive relations with the Kremlin, whoever is sitting there. That is to say, there is a mutual interest and urge to support one another. Among other things, a political union between Dmitry Medvedev and Ramzan Kadyrov, in my view, is called upon to dampen the ardor of the Kremlin siloviki, who view both presidents with hostility and are in principle capable of reckless actions.”

Indeed, it is interesting to note the meeting between Dmitry Medvedev and Ramzan Kadyrov against the backdrop of Rosneft’s decision to build a new oil refinery in the Republic of Kabardino-Balkaria (KBR), which was confirmed by KBR President Arsen Kanokov on March 4. On March 12, the speaker of Chechnya’s parliament, Dukvakha Abdurakhmanov, condemned Rosneft’s decision to build an oil refinery in KBR, calling it “an insult to the entire Chechen people,” reported; two days later, Chechnya’s human rights ombudsman, Nurdi Nukhadzhiev, called Rosneft’s plans “amoral” and “incomprehensible” in light of the fact that Chechnya has an Oil Institute to train qualified specialists and given Chechnya’s high rate of unemployment.

The chairman of Rosneft’s board, Kremlin deputy chief of staff Igor Sechin, is widely seen as the de facto leader of the Kremlin “siloviki” faction that wanted Vladimir Putin to serve a third term as Russia’s president and opposed Putin’s choice of Dmitry Medvedev as his successor. These same “siloviki” reportedly opposed allowing Ramzan Kadyrov, a former separatist, to become Chechnya’s president, preferring instead to deal with Kadyrov’s predecessor, Alu Alkhanov, a career Interior Ministry officer who was always loyal to Moscow.