ORB-2 Chief Replaced

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 8 Issue: 30

Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov won an apparent victory this past week, when Akhmed Khasenbekov, the head of ORB-2, the controversial operative-investigative unit of the Southern Federal District’s main Interior Ministry department that operates in Chechnya, was replaced by Isa Surguev, who previously worked in the federal Interior Ministry’s anti-organized crime directorate. Kommersant reported on July 24 that Surguev promised to “cooperate closely” with the local authorities. Kadyrov, in introducing Surguev, said that the federal power structures deployed in the republic must dedicate themselves solely to fighting crime and that anyone who does not agree with that formulation of tasks should find other work.

In May, the heads of Chechnya’s law-enforcement bodies and security agencies asked Kadyrov to initiate the abolition of ORB-2, expressing concern that ORB-2 continues to torture individuals whom it has detained (Chechnya Weekly, May 10). As the newspaper Vek wrote on May 8: “Observers note that in spite of the ‘law-enforcement’ rhetoric, Ramzan Kadyrov, in demanding the abolition of ORB-2, is primarily concerned not about human rights, but about removing a large federal structure from the republic” (Chechnya Weekly, March 22, 29).

Indeed, Kommersant on July 24 noted that Kadyrov has already forced the removal of several other top-level siloviki in the republic this year – Artur Akhmadov, commander of the Chechen OMON, and Muslim Ilyasov, commander of the Yug special battalion. The newspaper predicted that the republic’s chief prosecutor, Valery Kuznetsov, will be the next top law-enforcement official to be removed from his post.

Meanwhile, Kadyrov named Grigory Fomenko, a lieutenant-general in the federal Interior Ministry’s Interior Troops, to be the Chechen presidential envoy to the Southern Federal District, Gzt.ru reported on July 25. According to the website, Fomenko served as Chechnya’s military commandant, after which he was appointed deputy commander of the North Caucasus district of the Interior Ministry’s Internal Troops. Fomenko was among the first to receive the Order of Akhmat Kadyrov award from the pro-Moscow Chechen authorities, Gzt.ru reported.