PRAGUE, 9 April, Caucasus Times – Speaking on a late-night talk show on Russian television on April 7, Chechen Republic head Ramzan Kadyrov reportedly argued that there was no need to deploy bureaucrats, police, and Federal Security Service (FSB) personnel to Chechnya from elsewhere in Russia. He alleged that the 900 Interior Ministry personnel sent to serve in Chechnya simply “sit around in local police departments and never venture outside.”
Meeting on March 12 with First Deputy Prime Minister Magomed Daudov and Interior Minister Ruslan Alkhanov, Kadyrov announced that he has asked the federal authorities to stop deploying police to Chechnya from elsewhere in Russia.
Kadyrov said that while such additional manpower was needed at the start of the counterterrorism operation in Chechnya, today the Russian Interior Ministry and FSB forces permanently stationed in Chechnya, together with the Chechen police, are capable of stamping out the last remaining insurgents.
Kadyrov explained that the deployment of police to Chechnya from other Russian regions is a drain on the federal budget, and he claimed that the heads of other federation subjects frequently complain to him that such deployments negatively affect the fight against criminality at home.
He also claimed that police from elsewhere in Russia cannot work effectively in Chechen conditions because they do not know the region or the psychology of the population. On that occasion, however, Kadyrov did not also advocate that Moscow stop sending civil servants and FSB personnel to Chechnya.
Picking a new quarrel?Kadyrov’s March 12 statement was apparently a response to a proposal by the federal authorities to cut the manpower of the Chechen Interior Ministry (currently around 18,000) by 20 percent. Kadyrov told police and security personnel in Grozny on March 15 he considers that proposal counterproductive. He argued that halting the deployment of police to Chechnya from other parts of Russia and instead beefing up the Chechen police force would not only save budget funds, but help to reduce unemployment in Chechnya. He further pointed out that it makes no sense to dismiss local police who are far better acquainted with local conditions and geography than their counterparts from outside Chechnya.
Nikolai Simakov, a senior Russian Interior Ministry official who was himself sent to Chechnya two years ago to serve as deputy interior minister, agreed with Kadyrov that “the situation is changing for the better.” He therefore suggested cutting the number of police checkpoints — but only by two, from 33 to 31.
Chechens quoted by kavkaz-uzel.ru similarly agreed with Kadyrov that there is little point in sending police to Chechnya from elsewhere in Russia. But at the same time, they pointed out that the Chechen police frequently engage in arbitrary reprisals against law-abiding civilians, in particular anyone whose relatives are suspected of participating in the Islamic insurgency. “People in Chechnya have no respect for the police. They are afraid of them,” one Chechen NGO representative said.
North Caucasus expert Dmitry Savostin pointed out on April 8 that abolishing the FSB presence in Chechnya as Kadyrov clearly wants would require sweeping changes to federal legislation.html Savostin also categorically rejected Kadyrov’s claim that police sent to Chechnya from other Russian regions never leave the safety of police headquarters: he cited an armed clash on March 25 in which three police officers from Perm Oblast were wounded.
Savostin concurred that both police and civilian specialists should undergo better preparation for conditions in Chechnya. But he warned that agreeing to Kadyrov’s demand to stop sending police to Chechnya from elsewhere in Russia could have unpredictable consequences for the security situation across the North Caucasus, as other republic heads might follow suit.
Meanwhile, the Investigative Committee of the federal Prosecutor-General’s Office has reportedly identified one of Kadyrov’s aides, Shaa Turlayev, as having instigated an assassination attempt last year on Isa Yamadayev, two of whose brothers have been killed, apparently on Kadyrov’s orders.
Turlayev is a former Chechen field commander and member of President Aslan Maskhadov’s bodyguards who surrendered in 2004 after being wounded.
All efforts by the Investigative Committee to secure the cooperation of prosecutors in Chechnya have failed, and Kadyrov’s administration refused on April 8 to comment on the possibility that Turlayev was indeed behind the botched attempt to kill Isa Yamadayev.
Turlayev is reportedly currently personally involved in efforts to track down and kill members of the insurgency in the mountain regions of Chechnya.