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2007 - President Ramzan Kadyrov

On March 1, 2007, Russian President Vladimir Putin formally nominated Ramzan Kadyrov for president of Chechnya. Putin promoted Kadyrov, once Kadyrov had reached the minimum age of 30, shortly after the latter had rival Movladi Baysarov -- an FSB lieutenant colonel -- gunned down in broad daylight on a major Moscow street.

As candidates to choose from in addition to Kadyrov Putin had also represented the first deputy head of the presidential administration and the government of the Chechen Muslim Khuchiyev and head of the Grozny district administration Shahid Dzhamaldaev.

On March 2, 2007 the parliament of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov approved the granting authority of the President. For this decision in favor 56 of the 58 deputies from both chambers.

Characteristics of the new order were quickly visible:

  • The appointment of personnel who have no loyalties except to Kadyrov, and the steady elimination of those with independent ties to Moscow or independent bases of support there.
  • An improvement in the economic situation, as well as in human rights (marginally), as Kadyrov centralizes power and independent actors (read: rent-seekers and kidnappers) were reined in and franchised by his administration.
  • Kadyrov's "extraterritorial" efforts to speak for Chechens everywhere, not just in Chechnya.
  • Regional power aspirations, focusing first on re-integrating Ingushetia.

At the head of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov continued the line of his father, arranging for senior positions his men, mostly from the former separatists (as are Kadyrovs). Russian human rights groups have criticized Kadyrov for his continued employment of former Chechen fighters against Russia who are personally loyal to him (known informally as the ‘kadyrovtsy'), and who are allegedly responsible for numerous serious human rights violations, including the abduction and ‘disappearance' of civilians.

When Kadyrov assumed the presidency, promoted his maternal cousin Odes Baysultanov to the job (he had been First Deputy). Kadyrov named his chief enforcer and right-hand man, Adam Delimkhanov, as First Deputy Prime Minister. It was Delimkhanov who traveled to Moscow to pull the trigger on Baysarov.

His team Kadyrov formed on the basis of personal loyalty, based on the Ministry of the Interior (Interior Minister Ruslan Alkhanov of Chechnya for some time was the chief of protection of Akhmad Kadyrov, almost all the heads of regional departments of the police or relatives of Ramzan Kadyrov, either villagers or people loyal to him ), battalions of special forces of the Interior Ministry of Russia "South" and "North", which included former members of the Security Service (SB) and Kadyrov OMON (commander Artur Akhmadov was a former chief of staff of the Security Council). At the head of the Chechen Interior Ministry regiments (PPP-1), "oil regiment", PPP-2 also are people Ramzan Kadyrov. There is also a state of Kadyrov's personal guard (the exact number of soldiers of these units is not known - called the number from a thousand to several thousand).

Chechnya had been a mass of federal structures, each representing its own institutional interests and, often, competing clans within those institutions. For the three years before Kadyrov became president, President Alkhanov and, until his resignation, Prime Minister Abramov, each had independent ties to Moscow and bases of support there. The "siloviki," or "power ministries" -- FSB, MVD, MOD -- hated Kadyrov, and representatives of each try to work with Chechen factions not loyal to Kadyrov. A good example is ORB-2, the descendant of the RUBOP, the directorate designed to fight organized crime. When RUBOP was broken up (it had itself become an organized crime family) it was integrated into local MVD offices -- but not in Chechnya. There it was subordinated to the Southern District MVD in Rostov, to ensure an MVD presence outside Kadyrov's control.

The centralization of presidential power under Kadyrov had positive effects on Chechnya's economic and human rights situation. The human rights watchdog Memorial has documented an 80 percent drop in abductions over the past year, as Kadyrov, exercising the "state monopoly on violence," eliminates or neutralizes kidnappers not working under his direct sanction -- and he now rarely feels the need to kidnap for either economic or political reasons. Human rights improvement has its limits, however. Kadyrov's own "vertical of power," together with his cult of personality, mean that freedom of the Chechen media was not likely anytime soon.

In the past, government subsidies were basically bribes to keep Chechnya quiet, given on the understanding that that Kadyrov would pocket any funds that made it to Chechnya past the trough of officials through which it had to flow after leaving the Treasury. The economies of Dagestan and Ingushetia still ran more or less on these lines, the latter almost exclusively so. Kadyrov still kept the subsidies, but now forces other Chechens to contribute to rebuilding infrastructure. Derided as the grand projects are for their facade-deep garishness, they were still an improvement over the vast desolation that the Russians made and called "peace."

Kadyrov started to act as the arbiter of disputes among Chechens outside Chechnya. The prime example was his intervention in a mafia-style dispute involving his chief subordinate Sulim Yamadayev, commander of the "East" Battalion. Yamadayev and some of his men raided the Samson Meat Factory in St. Petersburg on September 15, 2006. Yamadayev was apparently acting as enforcer for a Chechen from Kazakhstan who had an ownership claim that put him at odds with the factory's manager, also a Chechen. Yamadayev was apparently acting as enforcer for a Chechen from Kazakhstan who had an ownership claim that put him at odds with the factory's manager, also a Chechen.

Kadyrov's ambitions extend well beyond Chechnya's borders, in the first instance to its neighbors. Kadyrov's influence had already spread to encompass most of the North Caucasus. He had launched regional initiatives, such as a North Caucasus Parliamentary Association in which his close associate, Chechen Parliament speaker Dukvakha Abdurakhmanov, plays a key role. And it was Kadyrov's police and security guards who were deployed to guard Makhachkala's central square when then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev visited Daghestan in April 2010.

Chechen Parliament Speaker Dukvakha Abdurakhmanov floated the idea of uniting the three republics of the Northeast Caucasus (Ingushetia, Chechnya and Dagestan) into one larger unit, in which Chechens would form the largest single ethnic group. In addition, Chechen officials sometimes recall longstanding claims to the Novolak district of Dagestan, which was part of Chechnya before the 1944 deportations. After the Chechens were moved out, the Soviets gave the land to ethnic Laks and changed the borders to keep the Laks (a high percentage of whom were members of the Communist Party) within Dagestan.

The most likely annexation, however, was the recreation of the pre-Dudayev Checheno-Ingush Republic. It solves a few of Moscow's problems, as well. Ingushetia still has an intractable dispute with North Ossetia over the Prigorodnyy Rayon, and any leader of Ingushetia is forced to sound the drums about the issue at every available opportunity. It would not be so high a priority on Kadyrov's agenda. Reintegration was also a way of getting rid of Ingush leader Zyazikov, with whom the Kremlin was intensely dissatisfied. Zyazikov had failed to deal with the Islamist insurgents -- who, it is well known, had thoroughly penetrated Ingushetia's security organs.

In July 2007 Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov declared that fighting in Chechnya had “finally and irreversibly” ended, prompting skepticism from the international community as to the stability of peace in the region. However, throughout 2007 Chechnya saw a significant decline in hostilities as well as casualties.

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Page last modified: 20-01-2016 18:20:33 ZULU