The prime minister of the rebel Chechen Republic of Ichkeria (ChRI), Akhmed Zakaev, has praised Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov for ending “zachistki” (security sweeps) that resulted in the disappearances of Chechen civilians, as well as for having presided over Chechnya’s “decolonization,” Kavkazky Uzel reported on May 18. The website quoted Kadyrov as saying in an interview with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty that the situation in Chechnya today is cardinally different from that of 2000-2003, “when the civilian population of Chechnya was subjected to cruel and severe zachistki, torture and violence.”
According to Kavkazky Uzel, Zakaev said that Kadyrov played and is playing a big role in changing the situation in Chechnya. “A lot changed in the life of Ramzan Kadyrov, particularly after the murder of his father,” Zakaev said. “And, unquestionably, he knows what that crime, what that murder was—who it was carried out by, on whose orders it was carried out. This person’s position with respect to the Kremlin and all the remaining special units that were enabled in the liquidation of his father has made itself known.” Zakaev said that his brothers-in-arms “are not fighting against Ramzan Kadyrov; they are fighting against the occupation forces,” Kavkazky Uzel reported. “Aggression has been committed by Russia,” Zakaev said. “But the decolonization of Chechnya is a fait accompli: Chechnya de jure and de facto absolutely did not become independent, but the very process of decolonization has already been completed. Undoubtedly, we will have to find another formula of co-existence with Russia that would answer to the interests of both Russian society and the Chechen people. Today the new [Russian] president [Dmitry Medvedev] has an extraordinary chance to formalize our relations from the position of law. Without a free Chechen Republic there will be neither stability nor democracy in Russia.”
Newsru.com, citing Ekho Moskvy radio, quoted Zakaev as saying: “We are preparing several serious documents aimed at averting clashes between the Chechen partisans and the Chechen police.” According to the website, Zakaev also said that the Chechen separatist movement “will do everything possible to minimize attempts to Chechenize this conflict.” Zakaev added that the Chechen resistance has become “freer” in its actions today. “If earlier they were forced to think about striking a column [of vehicles] or a target moving near a settlement, because after that strike the village would be subjected to a harsh zachistka, then today they can strike blows where they want and be sure that nothing will happen to the settlement afterwards, because there is the so-called ‘Kadyrovite police’, which does not allow excesses to be committed,” he said.
Commenting on Zakaev’s positive remarks about Kadyrov, RFE/RL’s Andrei Babitsky noted that Zakaev began making such statements a year to a year and a half ago. “Kadyrov, in general, is creating his own closed, uncontrollable political system, impermeable to Russian influence under the mask of formal loyalty to the federal center,” Kavkazky Uzel quoted Babitsky as saying. “In point of fact, the degree of independence of Kadyrov’s Chechnya is very high, already almost approaching the degree of independence of Ichkeria. On the other hand, I think what we have here is not only a political provocation [by Zakaev aimed at heightening tensions between Kadyrov and Moscow-CW]; there is also a genuinely very serious and deep bond between these political revolutionaries of the Dudaev call-up – to which, of course, Zakaev belongs—and Kadyrov. All of them advocated Chechnya as a separate national state. And, on the whole, they have managed to achieve this to a significant degree.”
Sergei Markedonov of the Institute for Political and Military Analysis expressed a similar view. “Ramzan Kadyrov is carrying out not only an independent domestic policy, but also [an independent] foreign [policy],” Kavkazky Uzel quoted him as saying. “Mr. Kadyrov is a kind of Caucasus emir not unlike the Bukhara emir in the Russian empire. We recall that this Bukhara emir was a colonel of the Tver Cossack forces [and] built splendid palaces in Zheleznovodsk. But this did not change the fact that his actions were in no way controlled by the imperial center. We see a similar situation in Chechnya.”