Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 169

The public execution set for September 10 in Grozny was unexpectedly postponed. Chechen officials insisted that the postponement was not a cancellation, but they failed to set a new date. The Russian media are interpreting the postponement as the effect of the negative reaction of Russian politicians and international human rights activists to the execution of two people in Grozny on September 3. (Segodnya, Kommersant-daily, September 11) But it is also possible that the decision was prompted by internal disagreements within the Chechen leadership on the best way to fight crime.

Punishment according to Islamic law began to be used in Chechnya not long before the end of the war. At first, only the lightest of punishments according to Shariah law — caning — was used. Shortly before he signed the Khasavyurt accords in August 1996, Chechen leader Aslan Maskhadov spoke out even against caning. After the withdrawal of Russian troops, during the presidency of Zelimkhan Yandarbiev, punishments according to Shariah law spread throughout the republic. At the beginning of this year, on the eve of Chechnya’s presidential elections, Monitor’s correspondent was told in the Muftiat that they intended to support Yandarbiev’s candidacy on the grounds that he had done more than any other Chechen politician to make Chechnya an Islamic state. First Deputy Prime Minister Movladi Udugov is also a strong supporter of turning Chechnya into a classic Islamic state. It appears possible that Maskhadov and others within the Chechen leadership remain opposed to the strict application of Islamic law. But they cannot say so openly, since this fact would be used against them by their political opponents.

Russia Expects Further Decline in Trade Credits in 1998.