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There's an old anecdote about Chechnya that runs: "How soon after the withdrawal of Russian forces from the republic will Ramzan Kadyrov be killed?" The answer: "He will be killed several hours before the withdrawal."

To judge by everything that has happened, that anecdote was overtaken by events on April 16.

The logical conclusion to be drawn from statements by representatives of the Chechen leadership is that the ending of the counterterrorism operation should bring Chechnya not just an economic boom, but it will enable Ramzan Kadyrov and the forces subordinate to him to impose control over Chechen territory.

Various officials have said on more than one occasion that the task of maintaining internal order should be transferred from the various federal forces deployed in Chechnya, either temporarily or on a permanent basis, to the local Chechen Interior Ministry.

What does this mean? It means that Kadyrov has acquired such power that he does not doubt his own capacity to maintain his hold over the republic.

Relying only on his own resources he will be able to keep in check the armed underground and the criminal world, and at the same time resolve any problems that require the use of force.

Kadyrov has indeed become the master of Chechnya, and it is entirely possible that at some point in the future he will have no further need whatsoever for the Defense Ministry, Federal Security Service, Interior Ministry units, and other federal forces currently on Chechen territory.

-- Andrei Babitsky

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Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at transmission+rferl.org

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