Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 4 Issue: 36

Officers of Moscow’s special services are increasingly fearful of a bloody new civil war within Chechnya, wrote correspondent Julius Strauss of London’s Daily Telegraph on October 6. According to Strauss, Russian intelligence officers who requested anonymity told him that Kadyrov’s gunmen will soon be fighting against clans whose leaders now find themselves out of power. He quoted one officer of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) as predicting that “the election will result in a new war….This time it won’t be between us and the Chechens but among themselves. This is the result of Moscow’s supporting Kadyrov.”

Strauss acknowledged that “It is rare for FSB officers to criticize the Kremlin’s policies, especially to a western journalist. But feelings in the Russian intelligence community are running high after orders were passed down from Moscow to support Mr. Kadyrov, come what may.” According to the British correspondent, many Russian army officers feel likewise–such as one who said: “He [Kadyrov] is using us as his pocket army to settle scores with rivals. I don’t want to be a mercenary for that thug.”

Even on election day there were signs of violence to come. At about 1 p.m., according to correspondent Marina Perevozkina of Moskovsky komsomolets, gunmen taped Kadyrov posters onto the fence surrounding the home of Malik Saidullaev. This was a clear violation of the law that forbids campaigning on election day. When Saidullaev’s guards began to remove the posters, warning shots were fired over their heads, and they replied with their own shots into the air. Perevozkina reported that one man was wounded in the incident.

Around 8 p.m., a military convoy with armored personnel carriers came up to the Saidullaev house; about 100 troops of the Chechen interior ministry leaped out and took up positions along the street. Their leader, Deputy Interior Minister Sultan Satuev, ordered all the women and children to leave the house so that his men could carry out their orders to disarm the “illegal armed band” stationed there–i.e., Saidullaev’s security force. The potentially explosive confrontation ended peacefully, with Satuev’s force agreeing to leave. But according to Perevozkina, the local residents fear that there will only be more such incidents in the future.

Salavat Gebeptaev, head of the local administration in Urus-Martan, told Perevozkina that on the night before the election, elite OMON police raided his home and seized his son and nephew, who also worked as his bodyguards. The two young men were set free on Sunday afternoon. He made no effort to conceal his disenchantment: “For many years we were working toward this presidential election, counting on it to bring us stability. Now it is not even interesting to me.”