Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 4 Issue: 22

As the dust settles after Akhmad Kadyrov’s recent shakeup of his cabinet and of local administration heads, it is increasingly clear that the surprise move was planned as part of his campaign to win the republic’s forthcoming presidential election. A correspondent for the London-based Institute for War and Peace Reporting interviewed various observers in Grozny. Typical of the comments quoted in the Institute’s June 13 article was that of a Chechen university professor. He said that “in the run-up to the presidential ballot, Kadyrov is keen to subjugate the law enforcement agencies, get control of cash flows, and surround himself with loyal staff.”

One of the district heads ousted in the reshuffle charged that Kadyrov has been making personnel decisions “solely on the basis of their personal loyalty. Professional competence and other merits do not matter to him.” The former official, who requested anonymity, cited the dismissals of Isita Gairbekova, district chief of Nozhai-Yurt district, and Shamil Buraev, head of Achkhoi-Martan district, calling both of them “excellent professionals, people of integrity, and well respected in Chechnya. They headed their districts at a very tough time, when they were constantly pressured and threatened by the guerrillas. Gairbekova’s husband, a police officer, was killed by militants in Argun two years ago. Buraev’s son was kidnapped last year. And look how these people have been rewarded for their incredible heroism! Kadyrov simply kicked them out.”