Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 2 Issue: 23

Two recent events sparked an apparent crisis in relations between the pro-Moscow Chechen administration and Russian military forces based in Chechnya. On June 4, the military conducted a “mopping up operation” in Djohar (Grozny) during which they halted at checkpoints the pro-Moscow heads of Chechen district administrations and the heads of Chechen governmental agencies who were traveling to the capital for an important meeting with prime minister Stanislav Il’yasov. The officials were not permitted to proceed to the meeting (Presscenter.ru, June 5; Gazeta.ru, June 6). A day later, on the night of June 5-6, the pro-Moscow chief of administration of the settlement of Gekhi-Chu, Lema Idrisov, was assassinated, evidently by separatists, an event that precipitated the resignations of three other leaders of Chechen local administrations, who complained that their personal security could not be guaranteed (Kommersant, June 7).

“I will not be surprised if all the chiefs of the local administrations file for resignation tomorrow,” Akhmad Kadyrov, head of the Chechen administration, warned. Kadyrov then went on to assail the actions of the Russian military. “Anarchy has been created at the checkpoints,” he asserted. “They speak boorishly there even with [Chechen] ministers. There is no discipline, and the officers do not have to bear any responsibility for that situation.” The military checkpoints, Kadyrov stressed, should be done away with, and the withdrawal of Russian troops should be continued; the function of ensuring security in the republic should be entrusted to the Chechen police (NTV.ru, June 7, citing the newspaper Vek).

On June 6, Stanislav Il’yasov, the pro-Moscow premier of Chechnya, announced that, two days previously, he had reached an agreement with Anatoly Kvashnin, chief of the military General Staff, to ensure that all future military operations within the republic would be coordinated with him personally–not, it should be noted, with Akhmad Kadyrov (Gazeta.ru, June 6). “I told [Kvashnin] straight,” Il’yasov related to Russian Television, “It’s time for you to ease off. It’s now our turn, to be able to build a peaceful life” (Russian Television, BBC Monitoring, June 6). It was announced shortly afterwards that General Ivan Babichev, the military commandant of Chechnya, would also be serving as a deputy premier of the republic, that is, he would, at least on paper, be a subordinate of Il’yasov (Lenta.ru, June 5).