Oreshkin on Moscow and Kadyrov: Be Careful What You Wish For

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 8 Issue: 14

Commenting on reports that the Chechen parliament had asked Moscow for an initial payment of 18.1 billion rubles (around $691 million), to be followed by yearly payments of 10 billion rubles (around $384 million), political analyst Dmitry Oreshkin, who heads the Merkator research group, told Kavkazky Uzel on April 2: “Kadyrov has gathered up all of the administrative and force levers in the republic. Now he is demonstrating to his people that he is a genuine dzhigit [literally, “skillful horseman”] and knows how to beat money out of the Kremlin’s money-bags in support of his regional elites.” Oreshkin added that Kadyrov “understands that the center depends on him, that the center has no one else to stake on, that if an alternative figure appears there, then the configuration of power that Kadyrov built will collapse and chaos will rise again in Chechnya…Correspondingly, he demands money as payment for his loyalty. And will be demanding it.”

Oreshkin said the Kremlin will subsidize Chechnya, but most likely in unofficial and non-public ways. “Agreeing to such demands – to compensate the victims of political repression for moral and material damage – creates a precedent: the Ingush can also demand compensation, for example. Therefore, the transfer of money will take place ‘hand-to-hand.’ Not recognizing those subsidies de jure, the Kremlin recognizes them de facto.”

Oreshkin told Kavkazky Uzel that the federal subsidies to Chechnya have already been increasing by a factor of two to three each year, following the traditional pattern in which a colonial power sponsors a colony in exchange for symbolic devotion. However, sooner or later this will lead to a catastrophe, Oreshkin warned – either when the center is no longer financially able to “feed” the regional elites or when the demands of these elites grow. “And the needs [of the regional elites] will grow very quickly, because these territories consider themselves not as colonies, but as equal subjects,” Oreshkin said. “In a few years the center will not be able to satisfy Chechnya’s demands.” Russia is thereby paying dearly for its “imperial mentality,” he said.

Oreshkin said the situation in Chechnya could worsen within a few years. “The technology of power that Kadyrov practices is based upon strict control by means of force,” he said. “That type of control suppresses the development of business. Correspondingly, Chechnya will not be able to become self-sufficient. It can only be subsidized and be a millstone around Moscow’s neck.” When the international community eventually feels less dependent on Russia and President Vladimir Putin in dealing with such issues as energy supplies, the war in Iraq and the fight against terrorism, Oreshkin said, “then the Chechen problem will rise to the surface.”

Meanwhile, Kavkazky Uzel on April 2 cited an article published in the newspaper Chechenskoe obshchestvo on March 29, entitled “Ramzan the Terrible” and written by the newspaper’s editor, Timur Aliev, suggesting that Kadyrov could become Russia’s president.