The Chechen parliament has unanimously elected presidential and government administration head Magomed Daudov, 35, as its new speaker. Daudov, aka Lord, succeeds Dukvakha Abdurakhmanov, who died late last month.
Daudov, regarded as one of the closest and most trusted associates of Chechen Republic head Ramzan Kadyrov, is a controversial figure. He reportedly fought against Russian federal forces in the early 2000s under the direct command of radical field commander Shamil Basayev before surrendering in 2004 and pledging his loyalty to Kadyrov. Indeed, Kadyrov himself is said to have boasted to a visiting Russian State Duma delegation in March 2009 that Daudov was a former insurgent. Unconfirmed reports say it was Daudov, then a district police chief, who commanded the operation in June 2006 in which Abdul-Khalim Saydullayev, Aslan Maskhadov’s successor as Chechen Republic Ichkeria president, was killed.
Daudov has also been implicated in the detention in February 2010 of human rights activists who sought to help the families of Chechens who had disappeared into the clutches of the security forces.
None of that information figures in the sanitized biography of Daudov circulated in March 2010 when he was appointed first deputy prime minister with responsibility for the law-enforcement agencies.
Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov (left) and Daudov watch horse races in Gudermes in April 2011.
Two years later, after the Chechen parliament amended the republic’s constitution to empower him to name the presidential and government administration head, Kadyrov immediately named Daudov to that post.
More recently, Jailed Assembly of Peoples of the Caucasus chairman Ruslan Kutayev claims that Daudov was one of the senior government personnel , together with Deputy Interior Minister Apti Alaudinov, who beat him following his arrest in February 2014 on a charge of illegal possession of drugs that human rights watchdogs are convinced was fabricated.
It was Daudov who escorted 17-year-old beauty Kheda Goylabiyeva to her controversial wedding in May to a district police chief old enough to be her father. Daudov was subsequently quoted as advocating the legalization of bigamy within the framework of Islamic law.
At first glance, therefore, Daudov is an odd choice for parliament speaker, especially when compared with his eloquent and intellectual predecessor. But analysts point out that the Chechen parliament has no power to make independent decisions or influence policy, which is the preserve of Kadyrov and his cronies.
As for whether Daudov’s appointment constitutes a promotion, a demotion, or a shift sideways, analyst Alesandr Kynev says that technically it is a promotion, while journalist Orkhan Djemal described it as “not a demotion” and Moscow Carnegie Center staffer Aleksey Malashenko as a shift sideways. At the same time, all three note that political power in Chechnya is contingent less on the formal position an official occupies as on his informal personal relations with Kadyrov.
Djemal suggests that Alaudinov may succeed Daudov as presidential and government administration head.
Meanwhile, Shamsail Saraliyev, who represents Chechnya in the Russian State Duma and was awarded the Order of Friendship last week, is a possible candidate to take on Abdurakhmanov’s informal role as advocate of controversial polices that Kadyrov favors, but considers it inexpedient to be publicly identified as the author of.