Despite Akhmad Kadyrov’s striking success in winning what amounts to monopolistic personal control over Chechnya’s internal political institutions, he still has strong opponents in the federal power structures. Last week President Vladimir Putin’s personal representative to the southern federal okrug joined his voice to those opponents. Vladimir Yakovlev evidently has judged that it is still safe for a Putin appointee to criticize Kadyrov vigorously and publicly.
According to an April 26 article by Andrei Riskin in Nezavisimaya gazeta, Yakovlev told a gathering in Grozny last week that the Kadyrov administration is working ineffectively. Among the issues that Yakovlev mentioned were the physical restoration of bombed-out cities and villages; the creation of new jobs; and the distribution of compensation payments to Chechens whose homes have been destroyed by military action. He charged that among Kadyrov’s cabinet ministers “one still does not find any sense of personal responsibility for mistakes; what still exists so far is only collective irresponsibility.”
According to Yakovlev, only 1,800 Chechens have thus far received compensation payments for their lost housing. Only 4,000 have even received official, written guarantees that they are eligible for such payments.
Oleg Orlov of the human rights group Memorial told Riskin that the receipt of such written guarantees has actually made some people even worse off than they were before. Typically, he said, such people are now living in temporary resettlement centers in Grozny. Once they receive their compensation documents, they are pressured to move out of these centers in order to make room for new refugees returning from Ingushetia. “But after all,” said Orlov, “papers about receiving compensation payments are not the same as actual money in hand, and all the more not the same as a house which has actually been built or as an apartment which has actually been purchased.”
As more and more able-bodied refugees return to find no jobs available for them, wrote Riskin, the unemployment rate in Chechnya is growing rather than shrinking The jobless figure for the republic is now 58 percent.
The April 20 issue of Nezavisimaya gazeta published another indication, though a milder one, of continuing resistance at the federal level to Kadyrov’s ambitions. General Vyacheslav Tikhomirov, commander of internal troops for the federal interior ministry, told the newspaper in an interview that Kadyrov’s often repeated call for leadership of the “anti-terrorist operation” in Chechnya to be transferred to the Chechen interior ministry is “premature.” Such a “radical step,” said Tikhomirov, should be taken only after the “Chechen police’s level of professionalism” has been further improved.