Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 7 Issue: 21

According to press reports, Chechnya’s Ministry of National Policy, Press and Information suspended a poll commissioned by allies of Chechen Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov with the aim of highlighting his ostensible popularity in the republic and making Chechen President Alu Alkhanov look bad (Chechnya Weekly, May 11). The suspension follows comments made by Alkhanov, who on May 18 told reporters in Grozny that he was considering an investigation into who initiated the poll. “I’d rather refrain from detailed comment before the poll results are released,” Interfax quoted Alkhanov as saying. “Then my comments will be extensive. Why ask these questions anyway? I know that Ramzan Kadyrov did not order the poll, so I am curious as to who did. Such a questionnaire is impossible in any other constituent territory of the Russian Federation. When the poll results are ready, I may ask the relevant departments to investigate the whole thing.”

On May 19, National Policy, Press and Information Minister Mosvsur Ibragimov released a statement saying the ministry had ceased conducting the poll because some of the questions on it raised doubts about its objectivity, Kavkazky Uzel reported. At the same time, Ibragimov denied the press reports that “representatives of the republic’s top leadership” had specially ordered the poll be conducted. Kavkazky Uzel quoted Alkhanov as saying that Kadyrov did not know who initiated the poll.

Media revelations concerning the poll followed other reports indicating growing tensions between Alkhanov and Kadyrov—a trend resulting in a shootout between members of their respective security forces that forced the Kremlin to weigh-in on Alkhanov’s side (Chechnya Weekly, May 4, 11 and 18; April 27). Despite these events, however, Alkhanov insisted that he has good relations with Kadyrov during his May 18 press conference. “We have no other alternative,” Itar-Tass quoted Alkhanov as saying. “We have enough wisdom to prevent any complications in the republic. We are one team and we shall work for the sake of Chechnya’s prosperity and brush our personal ambitions aside. The number one task that Chechnya’s first president Akhmat Kadyrov set us is the policy of peace and creativity, and we will not allow anyone to drive a wedge between us.”