Publication: Monitor Volume: 8 Issue: 97

President Vladimir Putin announced yesterday that he was widening the powers of Akhmed Kadyrov, head of Chechnya’s pro-Moscow administration. Putin said Kadyrov could now independently appoint the members of Chechnya’s government and the heads of its towns and districts. According to the Russian president, Kadyrov will choose the head of Chechnya’s government in conjunction with Viktor Kazantsev, the presidential representative in the Southern federal district. Kadyrov yesterday called the presidential decree granting him the right to appoint the heads of Chechnya’s districts a vote of confidence by the head of state (NTVru.com, May 16).

Earlier this week, Kadyrov said the Russian government was considering his call for the creation of a republican Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) to replace the current Department of Internal Affairs for the Chechen Republic, which is in charge of the republic’s police force. Kadyrov argued that creating a Chechen MVD would help the Chechen police solve most of their most difficult problems.

In the meantime, the work of the Chechen police remains highly dangerous. Yesterday morning, one policeman was killed and ten wounded when a police car was blown up in the southern Chechen town of Vedeno. Around the same time, a policeman in the Leninsk district of Djohar (Grozny), the Chechen capital, was shot to death while on his way to work. The perpetrators escaped after stealing the policeman’s sidearm. The murder further deepened suspicions and raised tensions between the Chechen police force and the Russian military and security forces stationed in the republic. The slain policeman’s comrades were quoted as saying that that his murder, which, they claimed, “took place literally before the eyes of personnel manning a Russian [military] checkpoint,” showed that the Kremlin was simply using the Chechen police to try and “prove to the Western powers that what is happening in Chechnya is the imposition of constitutional order, not the destruction of the Chechen people.”

Since the beginning of the year, twelve ordinary policemen and four officers in the Leninsk district police department have been murdered. According to the official investigation, separatist fighters were responsible. The policemen themselves question this, suggesting that the Russian side was (Radio Liberty, May 16). Anonymous Russian military officials, for their part, have alleged that members of the Chechen police force are helping rebel fighters infiltrate into the republic’s capital (see the Monitor, May 15).