In early December, former Russian Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin, who now heads up the Accounting Chamber of Russia (the rough equivalent of the U.S. GAO), announced that “he had asked prosecutors to investigate senior [Russian] bureaucrats suspected of misusing vast sums of reconstruction cash” destined for Chechnya. Stepashin reported that two top officials of the Ministry of Finance and Economics Ministry had been singled out in a Chamber report which concluded that the equivalent of more than US$2 million had gone astray (Reuters, December 1).
Akhmad Kadyrov, the pro-Moscow civilian chief of Chechnya, defended himself against corruption charges by affirming, “I don’t know where the money sent by the federal authorities to Chechnya is going. I don’t manage it” (Reuters, December 1). The Audit Chamber, however, contends that Kadyrov’s Kremlin-installed administration has misspent just under US$1 million, including US$146,000 which was earmarked to pay the wages of teachers and doctors in Chechnya but in fact was “spent on travel and purchases by Kadyrov’s officials” (Moscow Times, December 2).
The Accounting Chamber’s audit of the finances of the Republic of Chechnya was the first to be conducted since 1996. Officers from the Ministry of Defense, MVD and FSB were drafted to serve on the auditing committee. “During the course of the audit,” the newspaper Izvestia (December 2) grimly noted, “two of the officers died, and the family of one of them was subjected to threats.”