Chechen authorities propose merger of Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan

Dukvakha Abdurakhmanov, speaker of the Chechen parliament, surprised everyone in Russia recently by declaring that the process of stabilization in the North Caucasus could be accelerated by merging Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan into one region of the Russian Federation.

Dukvakha Abdurakhmanov, speaker of the Chechen parliament, surprised everyone in Russia recently by declaring that the process of stabilization in the North Caucasus could be accelerated by merging Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan into one region of the Russian Federation. Observers have unanimously concluded that such an initiative would primarily serve the interests of Ramzan Kadyrov, prime minister of Chechnya and Abdurakhmanov’s patron.

The idea is seemingly in the wake of the general ideas of the Kremlin about what should be: regions should be “enlarged” if possible for the purpose of improvement of their vertical governability. However, in this case such possibility is absolutely absent. Representatives of Ingushetia and Dagestan already expressed their negative attitude to the new Chechen initiative. Nothing is heard from Vladikavkaz yet but it is clear that for North Ossetia in its long-standing land dispute with Ingushetia this scenario is also very undesirable. Moreover, Dmitri Kozak, presidential envoy for the Southern federal district (known as an author of regional merger plans), has announced that no regions in the Southern federal district are in need of enlarging. Such initiatives would not help stability in the North Caucasus, chronically suffering from the Stalin’s policy of “arrangement in pairs” in the national state formations but will only finish it. At least, in this case Dagestan, where the finest balance of mutual statuses of numerous local ethnic groups has been built for decades, would face another redistribution of powers and “places at the feeding-trough” being definitely the most painful of all. Leaving apart the regions, even the municipal reform that has to improve material condition of state officials who have got entrenched in large cities through granting them the tastiest slices of neighboring lands is actually frozen because of “resistance of material” in the ethnic republics of the Southern federal district.

It is also clear to everyone “for whom” the merger plan could be conceived. It’s not just that Ramzan Kadyrov is the sole Academician and Hero of Russia among the North Caucasus leaders. Chechens have always claimed the role of the “toughest” of the local ethnic groups. Avar people of Dagestan constantly challenge the Chechens for this role, always with weapons in hand.

Some experts see Dukhvakha Abdurakhmanov’s statement as a test of public opinion, probably launched on the initiative of certain Moscow patrons of Ramzan Kadyrov. It turns out that this step cannot be anything else, but what is the end goal? It is logical to assume that there’s a basic two-move combination typical of the cunning in their relations with the rich and powerful: I’ll boldly ask for a million rubles, and then I’m sure to get a thousand.

We should not forget that preparation of a document really unprecedented for the Russian state in its current “vertical” condition is evidently nearing completion now. This is an agreement on division of powers between Moscow and Chechnya. A month ago, Abdurakhmanov announced an upcoming signing of the agreement at a press conference in Moscow. According to him, the agreement makes provisions for transforming all of Chechnya into a tax-exempt zone for 10-15 years. For the same period, Chechnya would supposedly be given the right to manage all its natural resources. Along with this, a permanent game of raising stakes is going on permanently. Approximately simultaneously the parliament of Chechnya demanded the federal authorities to increase payments from the federal budget to Chechnya “for restoration” six-fold. Along with the requested 120 billion rubles there would be four fold more budget money per capita in Chechnya than in the capital of the Russian Federation. It is possible that the bold initiative of merger of Ingushetia and Dagestan with a follow-up refusal is intended for facilitation of “promotion” of this disputable claim and most likely many others.

Inevitable contradictions between the two top-ranking officials of the republic started surfacing very actively. “Elected” President of Chechnya Alu Alkhanov who had been for a long time considered a kind of puppet of Kadyrov’s family suddenly decided to manifest independence. First of all, he prohibited people of Ramzan Kadyrov to enter Government House with weapons and the Prime Minister to take more than two guards to this building. When such formulations are made in Chechnya the air starts smelling gunpowder.

Really, just in two days after the statement of Abdurakhmanov the matter came to a direct armed clash in the main headquarters of Grozny. After ten guards of Kadyrov covered with hand grenades were not admitted to the governmental mess the opposing forces started gathering at the central square from all sides. The Prime Minister phoned his President and demanded him to get out of the building because “it will be stormed now.” The situation was aggravated by presence of Auditing Chamber Chairman Sergei Stepashin in Alkhanov’s office.

Kadyrov’s guards finally retreated. The presidential guards had one wounded. Thus Alu Alkhanov demonstrated his force and Kadyrov allegedly had to apologize to Alkhanov. In any case, it is clear that they will be unable to get along together “in one lair” and Moscow will have to solve this problem too.

We see that history repeats itself in all harmful details. It is repeated not only in the sense that a few years ago an absolutely similar storm incident have occurred a few years ago between Kadyrov senior and Beslan Gantamirov who was the Mayor of Grozny then. This history dates back from the Third Rome to the First Rome where fathers of the state practiced the strategy of “barbarization of conflicts” even broadly. This strategy is like the present Russian “Chechenization.” In the same way Roman financiers permanently complained that maintenance of the border federal allies cost the empire enormous sums. The federates permanently formed alliances with someone and not necessarily “for” but also against eternal Rome.

The result is known. The proposed strategy proved to be only a miserable tactic and “eternity” was ruined.