Ramzan Kadyrov’s loyalty will be rewarded
One of last week’s major news items was President Vladimir Putin’s decree on reducing the military presence in Chechnya. The decree caused quite a stir, but there was really no reason for that. A troop withdrawal has long since become not only logical, but inevitable.
One of last week’s major news items was President Vladimir Putin’s decree on reducing the military presence in Chechnya. Yet this decree was entirely predictable: a gift for Ramzan Kadyrov, whom Moscow has raised to be an exemplary ethnic political leader.
President Putin signed the decree on improving the management of counter-terrorist operations in the North Caucasus back on August 2, but an excerpt from it wasn’t published until last week (the classified decree will not be published in full). The decree states that Defense Ministry and Interior Ministry units stationed in Chechnya on a non-permanent basis will be withdrawn from the region in 2007-08. As a result, the federal presence (now 50,000 personnel) will be halved: Chechnya will retain the 46th Brigade of Internal Troops (7,000 personnel), the Defense Ministry’s 42nd Brigade (15,000), and the Itum-Kali Border Guards detachment (3,000). The military personnel “will remain at their bases,” while day-to-day law and order in Chechnya will be maintained by 20,000 Chechen security and law enforcement personnel from the Chechen Interior Ministry and the South and North battalions, controlled by the Chechen government – or, to be more precise, by Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov.
The decree caused quite a stir, but there was really no reason for that. A troop withdrawal has long since become not only logical, but inevitable. Otherwise, Moscow would find itself in a rather strange situation. After all, Ramzan Kadyrov has become just about the most prominent regional representative in Russia – confirming his loyalty to the Kremlin at every opportunity.
In July, Kadyrov said that there were no more than 150 Chechens among the guerrillas; the rest being from adjacent regions, or foreigners. Keeping 25,000 troops deployed for the sake of so few seems excessive, especially given that 70 guerrillas have surrender during the amnesty in the past month, and the rest prefer to take action outside Chechnya: Shamil Basayev was killed in Ingushetia, and last week’s bombings happened in Dagestan and Ingushetia, though no federal troops are being sent into those regions.
Kadyrov heads the Chechnya branch of the United Russia party, which controls the Chechen parliament; and even the lawmakers who aren’t United Russia members are entirely loyal to Kadyrov.
Kadyrov has become an honored hero of the society pages – a living example of how a partisan fighter can turn into a polished executive of Chechen Republic, Inc.
Kadyrov has proved he’s in touch with the common people, by making friends with a Russian youth: the national media reported with delight last week that Kadyrov’s mother has adopted Vitya Piganov, 16, from a Grozny orphanage.
Finally, Kadyrov has declared that if the people demand it, Vladimir Putin will have to stay on for a third term, whether he wants to or not. The Kremlin’s usual reaction to such suggestions is restrained irritation, but it’s been stoical about Kadyrov’s soldier-like bluntness – perhaps realizing that there’s no need to take offense at the truth.
Such persistence could not go unrewarded. Ramzan Kadyrov will turn 30 on October 5. His birthday present will be Chechnya, free of external military forces. And barring any major errors, he will proceed to rule long and happily.