Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 8 Issue: 9

President Vladimir Putin announced on March 1 that he was nominating Ramzan Kadyrov, Chechnya’s acting president, as the republic’s new president and was submitting Kadyrov’s name to the republic’s parliament for its approval. According to Newsru.com, Putin made the announcement during a meeting with Kadyrov at the presidential residence of Novo-Ogarevo, outside of Moscow. “I proceeded on the principle that much has been done by you for the reconstruction of Chechnya in recent years, both in the capacity of deputy chairman of the [Chechen] government and in the capacity of head of the republic’s government,” Putin told Kadyrov. “It helps that you applied all of your energy so that Chechnya’s rehabilitation would continue at the same tempo – both social and economic rehabilitation.”

Newsru.com reported that two other candidates had been suggested to Putin – Muslim Khuchiev, first deputy head of the Chechen presidential and governmental apparatus and leader of the regional branch of A Just Russia, the recently created pro-Kremlin party; and Shakhid Dzhamaldaev, head of the Grozny district (Chechnya Weekly, February 22). “But those two candidates fulfilled the role of ‘extras,’ in that more than one candidate had to be presented to the Russian president for confirmation in order to create the illusion of a ‘democratic appointment,’” Newsru.com wrote.

Kadyrov, for his part, told Putin during their Novo-Ogarevo meeting that if Chechnya’s parliament approves him as the republic’s president, “I will do everything to continue, in a worthy manner, the work begun by my father, so that the republic’s inhabitants feel secure [and] live with dignity; so that there are no manifestations of international terrorism and Wahhabism.” He also said that he would work on reducing unemployment, vowing that if the federal center continues to provide the republic with the same aid it is providing today, “then in the coming years, Chechnya will be the calmest and most prosperous region” of the country. “I am sure that these are not just words: our people want to work, be part of Russia, and be at peace with other peoples,” Kadyrov said.

Later, on March 1, Kadyrov told Interfax he understands “that the difficulties are far greater than the ones we see today. Every person who went through two terrible wars, who were left without a roof over their head, lost relatives and friends, are relying today on the authorities, hoping they will be given housing and work soon, rather than in the distant future. I plan to justify those hopes.” Kadyrov said that around 1,000 families would receive “well-furnished” apartments before the end of this year, and that hospitals, schools and kindergartens would be built. He also said he planned to “completely extirpate the practice of ‘disappearing people’ [and] the application of unlawful methods in conducting investigations.” He added: “From now on, not one structure of the law-enforcement or security departments will resort to such methods, and we will not allow anyone to do this. Law and order will triumph on the territory of the Chechen Republic. I say this with complete responsibility, because I know that I am supported by the whole Chechen nation in this.” According to Newsru.com, he stressed that in referring to “the Chechen nation,” he meant not only ethnic Chechens, but also “Russians, Armenians, Avars, Nogais and many others who have shared all the hardships of the recent years with the Chechens.”