Plan to Extend Kadyrov’s Term Gains Traction

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 8 Issue: 21

An initiative floated on May 16 by Chechnya’s human rights ombudsman, Nurdi Nukhazhiev, to extend the terms of Chechnya’s president and parliament, as well as that of the Russian president (Chechnya Weekly, May 17), received backing on May 17 from Dukvakha Abdurakhmanov, the speaker of the People’s Assembly, the lower house of Chechnya’s parliament. “We are firmly convinced that the four-year term for the president of the Chechen Republic – and, all the more so, for the president of the country – is not optimal,” Abdurakhmanov said on behalf of the assembly’s deputies. “Ramzan Kadyrov has changed everything and he is only 30-years-old, so why should we be thinking about new appointments in four years; why must a politician who is handling his duties beautifully be limited to a period of four years in office?” Abdurakhmanov said. He added, however, that any issue that involves changing Chechnya’s constitution must be put to a referendum.

Meanwhile, Kavkazky Uzel on May 23 quoted Nurdi Nukhazhiev as saying his office had carried out a public opinion survey, which found that more than 90 percent of the republic’s citizens under the age of 30, and at least 87 percent of those over 30, were in favor of extending Kadyrov’s term in office.

Kavkazky Uzel said there is little doubt that if such an initiative were supported by both Moscow and the republic’s leadership, it would win approval in a referendum. The website quoted Makhmud Dakaev, a 40-year-old Grozny resident, as saying: “The authorities in Chechnya, as in Russia generally, live today in and of themselves. They promulgate the laws they need, change the constitution, carry out sociological surveys for themselves, establish high ratings for themselves – in general, do anything they see fit to do. And the authorities need the people only up to a point – in their capacity as subservient and conscientious taxpayers. I have no doubt that the so-called ‘initiatives’ of Nukhazhiev-Abdurakhmanov were sent down ‘from the top’ as a kind of trial balloon. If necessary, they will also carry out a ‘referendum,’ organizing a 100-percent turnout and even 200-percent support for the idea of increasing the terms in office of whomever they want – Kadyrov, Putin, or someone else.”

A college student named Islam told Kavkazky Uzel: “I read somewhere that power corrupts a person, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Those who today rule, both in Chechnya and in Russia, have been absolutely corrupted by this limitless power. And they are doing everything possible to hold onto this power. And it is not difficult today to organize the ‘absolute support of the people.’ It was Stalin who said that it is not important how the citizens vote, it is important to count those votes correctly. I think there will be no problem in extending the terms of Kadyrov, Putin [or] the Chechen parliament. And the people, as always, will say nothing, because they simply have no other way out.”

Meanwhile, Chechnya’s Public Chamber on May 22 declared its support for Nurdi Nukhazhiev’s statements of May 16, sharply criticizing the office of the republic’s chief prosecutor, Valery Kuznetsov. Nukhazhiev charged that the prosecutor’s office had failed to protect human rights in the republic. Observers believe the attacks on the prosecutor and his office are part of an effort by Ramzan Kadyrov to unseat Kuznetsov and replace him with a loyalist (Chechnya Weekly, May 17).