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Karachayevo-Cherkessia Still Without A New Prime Minister

Karachayevo-Cherkessia Republic President Boris Ebzeyev

Karachayevo-Cherkessia Republic President Boris Ebzeyev

Eleven days after the deadline imposed last month by North Caucasus Federal District head Aleksandr Khloponin, it is still unclear who will succeed Vladimir Kayshev as prime minister of the Karachayevo-Cherkessia Republic (KChR). Analysts attribute the delay to infighting among the Karachais, who account for some 38 percent of the republic's population of 427,500.

Visiting Cherkessk on April 21, Khloponin gave KChR President Boris Ebzeyev until April 30 to name a Cherkess as prime minister in place of Kayshev, who is an ethnic Greek. The choice of Kayshev in October 2008, shortly after Ebzeyev was confirmed as president, antagonized the Cherkess minority because it violated the long-standing unwritten agreement that the republic's president should be a Karachai, the prime minister a Cherkess, and the parliament speaker an ethnic Russian.

A Cherkess, Zurab Dokshokov, was subsequently named parliament speaker but quit that post after a year to represent the KChR on the Federation Council. Dokshokov was succeeded as parliament speaker by a Russian; consequently, the Cherkess no longer held any of the top leadership posts.

On May 2, the website Caucasus Knot quoted a member of Ebzeyev's administration as saying Ebzeyev had submitted his proposed candidate to parliament for confirmation, but that she did not know who it was. On May 5, the news agency Regnum quoted parliament deputy (A Just Russia) Akhmat Ebzeyev as saying unofficially that the nominee is Fral Shebzukhov, one of President Ebzeyev's advisers. (The two Ebzeyevs are not known to be close relatives.)

Shebzukhov is one of three potential Cherkess candidates identified by The others are Labor and Social Development Minister Mukhamed Arashukov and Economic Development Minister Sultan Khashukayev.

Khashukayev was among three potential candidates discussed by the Circassian political organization Adyghe Khase (Circassian Council); Shebzukhov was not one of them. Adyghe Khase Chairman Mukhamed Cherkesov told Caucasus Knot that he considers Mukhamed Terkulov -- minister for industry, transport, communications, fuel and energy -- to be the most professional and the candidate best able to defend Cherkess interests. Cherkesov said he thinks Terkulov is capable of "breathing new life" into the government, while other candidates might be tempted to put their own business interests above those of the republic.

It is entirely possible, however, that Ebzeyev's preferred candidate for prime minister will suffer the same fate as Vyacheslav Derev, whom Ebzeyev repeatedly nominated last year to represent the republic on the Federation Council. The parliament either refused to put his candidacy to the vote, or voted it down.

The KChR parliament session in early May that was to have voted on the new prime minister has been postponed indefinitely.

About This Blog

This blog presents analyst Liz Fuller's personal take on events in the region, following on from her work in the "RFE/RL Caucasus Report." It also aims, to borrow a metaphor from Tom de Waal, to act as a smoke detector, focusing attention on potential conflict situations and crises throughout the region. The views are the author's own and do not represent those of RFE/RL.