Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 211

According to the latest issue of "Itogi" magazine, recent personnel reshuffles made in the Chechen leadership by President Aslan Maskhadov are directly linked to the flow of Caspian oil through Chechen territory. The changes include the replacement of all Chechnya’s economic ministers and the reorganization of the state oil company, YUNKO.

At the beginning of this year, when Maskhadov named his first cabinet, the "power" ministries were the most fought-over prizes. But now that oil has begun to flow along the Baku-Novorossiisk pipeline, posts related to the economy and to oil have become the most desirable. According to Itogi, Maskhadov split YUNKO up into four state oil concerns in order to reward his associates by creating as many top oil jobs as possible. The opening of the oil pipeline also explains Maskhadov’s decision to ban all those who earlier worked for Doku Zavgaev (head of Chechnya’s pro-Moscow war-time government) from serving in the current government.

Until now, those serving in government were very poorly paid (in fact, salaries were not paid at all). But with the pipeline in operation, Chechnya’s financial situation is expected to improve. Maskhadov is therefore now feeling compelled, Itogi says, to give the plum jobs to the various field commanders in order to ensure their support in the future. (Itogi, November 4)

Spoiled for Choice in Saratov.