A review of the current situation in the Chechen republic and the details of the conflict between Gantamirov and Kadyrov.
The military has reported that the battle phase of the conflict in Chechnya has ended. In the meantime, Russian servicemen are getting killed and civilians are suffering in the republic. Manifold reports of media about armed attacks of Chechen guerrillas and the losses to federal forces testify that the war in Chechnya continues. According to the General Staff of the Russian Federation, as of July 13, the federal forces lost 2,493 servicemen since August 2, 1999 and 7,282 servicemen were wounded. In the meantime, Colonel-General Valery Manilov, first Deputy Chief of the General Staff, stated that as of June 22, the total losses of the federal forces were 2,405 servicemen and 7,005 servicemen were wounded.
During twenty days of fighting (from June 22 to July 13, 2000), 88 servicemen were killed in Chechnya and about 300 servicemen were wounded (on the average during the second Chechen campaign, an average of seven servicemen have been killed each day.) Sometimes, Chechen guerrillas have successfully massacred a few dozen Russian servicemen at once. As a result of the terrorist acts organized by the Chechen separatists on July 2 and July 3, about forty servicemen of the Defense Ministry and the Interior Ministry died. The weakness of the local authorities, which are comprised of people loyal to the federal government, is additional evidence of the instability in the republic. In due time, Marshal Sergeev, Russian Defense Minister, commented on the reasons for the losses in the federal forces in Chechnya . He spoke about the necessity of “activating work” in Chechen settlements and creating local law enforcement agencies. The “efficiency” of the local law enforcement agencies in Chechnya was demonstrated last Tuesday, when Beslan Gantamirov, Chief of the Chechen Interior Ministry, decided to “purge” Gudermes and ordered that volunteers be enlisted throughout the republic. Together with 200 armed soldiers, he headed from Grozny to Gudermes. About 2,000 “loyal policemen” were to enter the city at the time of his arrival. He encircled Kadyrov’s residence and came to the administration in order to sort out relationships. Gantamirov took this step in response to Kadyrov’s decision to dismiss the heads of six local administrations (four governors in Grozny, the rest in Achkhoi-Martan and Urus-Martan). Gantamirov stated that “we will not betray the people, who followed us from the Ingushetian borders to Grozny and captured the city.”
General Ivan Babichev, Main Military Commandant of Chechnya and Vladimir Bokovikov, Deputy Presidential Envoy in the Southern federal zone, persuaded Gantamirov to obey the head of the interim Chechen administration. They stated that Beslan Gantamirov will have to take into consideration Kadyrov’s decisions and obey his orders. Kadyrov, in turn, will not try to dismiss Beslan Gantamirov, despite “his thoughtless activities”.
Kadyrov noted: “I will make all decisions independently and try to make all officials adhere to them. Gantamirov, being my deputy, has no right to criticize my orders and decisions, including the decisions concerning staff issues.”
When talking about the reasons for the dismissal of the heads of the local administrations, Kadyrov stated that “these people have been dismissed, because they could not cope with their tasks. In particular, I have heard a lot of complaints from local residents about their infringements. In addition, they were involved in the embezzlement of state property.” According to Kadyrov, the decision regarding the dismissal of these people was supported by the population of the republic.
All this is evidence of the extremely low efficiency of local authorities. Chechen police can do everything; officials steal money and state property. Strange as it may seem, Kadyrov is trying to fight corruption. Gantamirov, being the mayor of Grozny during the first Chechen campaign, was arrested and imprisoned for embezzling. Currently, Kadyrov has pushed his people from the pork. Will he put up with this?
The answer for this question remains open yet. It is possible that soon we will become eye-witnesses of the opposition between groups loyal to the federal government. Currently, the Kremlin shuts its eyes to this: it is advantageous for the Kremlin to support these people. No one pays attention to the criminal past of these people. The main thing is to end the war and restore normal life in the republic. That is why currently the Russian leadership trusts (or pretends to trust) the interim Chechen administration headed by Kadyrov and Gantamirov.
The fact that Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov signed a decree “On measures aimed at supporting the administration of the Chechen republic” is proof that the Russian leadership, at least in its official statements, supports the Chechen administration. According to this decree, the administration of the Chechen republic will supervise the use of the money allocated from the federal budget to finance the restoration of Chechnya. The administration has been commissioned with opening accounts in the bodies of the federal treasury in order to discount the money of the federal budget.
Within a week, the liquidation commission of the representative office of the Russian government in Chechnya has to transfer the rest of the money, which was transferred from the accounts of the representative office of the Russian government in Chechnya to the accounts of the Chechen republic.
The head of the Chechen administration will hold discussions with the Russian Finance Ministry in order to estimate the expenditures on the administration of the Chechen republic until the end of 2000. He also has to arrange the work of the executive bodies of the Chechen Republic, the district administrations and to make proposals on their financing and technical support.
According to the decree, the Russian Ministry for Taxes and Fees has to organize the work of collecting taxes on the territory of Chechnya and transferring them to the special accounts of the federal treasury. The Justice Ministry of the Russian Federation, together with the administration of the Chechen republic, was commissioned with the task of organizing the state registration of juridical persons on the territory of Chechnya.
One more very important factor connected with the aid provided by the federal center to Chechnya is the decision of the government to establish the Chechen Emergency Ministry in Grozny by August 1. According to the press service of the Russian Emergency Ministry, this body will be created in order to increase the efficiency of the work of the Russian Emergency Ministry, which is aimed at rendering aid to the population of the North-Caucasian region. It is supposed to form the new ministry on the basis of the existing Staff of the Emergency Ministry in Grozny and the 404th training center. The ministry has already received hardware and property from the reserve of the Territorial Department of the Emergency Ministry in the Chechen republic, the disbanding of which is being carried out in Grozny.
The new ministry will probably be headed by Colonel Ruslan Avtaev, who previously worked in the Russian Emergency Ministry. The regional department of the Emergency Ministry in the Chechen republic will also be subordinated to Kadyrov. According to the General Staff of the Russian Federation, a brigade of the Emergency Ministry will be formed in Chechnya and Chechen draftees will serve in this brigade. This is a very important decision connected with attracting Chechen young people to the Army. The youth will be persuaded to resist the ideas of Wahhabism. Kadyrov, being a follower of traditional Islam, is interested in it.
It turns out that Kadyrov was given a carte blanche to organize economic activities on the territory of Chechnya. He is enemy number one of Aslan Maskhadov and the Wahhabis. But there is one more threat. It is not out of the question that Kadyrov and his entourage will have a chance to steal the money of the state. Can they resist the temptation? Is it possible that Kadyrov will follow Gantamirov’s example? Yet the federal center trusts the Mufti and his people.
Despite the violence inflicted by the Chechen separatists and terrorists, life in Chechnya is improving. This life is still very fragile. Kadyrov, who fought against the federal forces during the previous Chechen campaign and Gantamirov, who fought against Kadyrov’s people, are trying to revive the economy and establish Constitutional order in the republic. It is a great deal.