Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Caucasus Report

Scuffle In Russian Duma Could Highlight Kadyrov Clout

Russian State Duma deputy Adam Delimkhanov (left) prays next to Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov (center) at Grozny's central A.H. Kadyrov Mosque in 2010.
Russian State Duma deputy Adam Delimkhanov (left) prays next to Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov (center) at Grozny's central A.H. Kadyrov Mosque in 2010.
The altercation last week between Adam Delimkhanov, one of Chechnya’s State Duma representatives, and Rodina party Chairman Aleksei Zhuravlev is further evidence of the clout Chechen Republic head Ramzan Kadyrov wields in Moscow. Kadyrov, who happens to be Delimkhanov’s cousin, not only apparently had Zhuravlev summoned to account for his actions before the Russian presidential administration; he also succeeded in spinning the whole incident to underscore Chechnya’s crucial role as Russia’s bulwark against an anticipated new wave of Islamists currently fighting in Syria against the embattled regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

According to Zhuravlev -- who like Delimkhanov is a member of the majority United Russia Duma faction -- he went to talk to Delimkhanov at Naryshkin’s request. Delimkhanov had apparently complained, first, about Zhuravlev’s formal request to Russian Prosecutor-General Yury Chayka to rule on the implications of a monument unveiled in Chechnya in September to women killed resisting the Tsarist conquest. Second, Zhuravlev had questioned on social media the legal framework within which former employees of Russia’s crack Alfa division are currently engaged in training Chechen Interior Ministry special purpose troops in antiterrorism techniques. A documentary on the subject was aired on Chechen state television in early October.

Zhuravlev said that Delimkhanov first warned him that if he continued to stick his nose into matters that did not concern him “it will end badly” and then suddenly punched Zhuravlev in the head. Zhuravlev retaliated in kind. An unidentified visitor to Delimkhanov’s office who tried to separate the two men had two teeth knocked out, and was subsequently hospitalized. The two desisted only after Delimkhanov dropped a gold-plated pistol. “Novaya gazeta” has formally asked Naryshkin to explain how Delimkhanov managed to bring a firearm into the Federation Council building.

Zhuravlev was quoted as saying that evening that his face was badly bruised and that he planned to raise the incident with the Duma’s ethics committee and with Federal Security Service (FSB) Director Aleksandr Bortnikov. Delimkhanov aide Tatyana Lazina said he would not comment on what happened.

State Duma speaker Naryshkin, however, said that the Duma’s Ethics Committee would not get involved and that it was up to the police to investigate the fistfight. On December 4, Naryshkin and United Russia faction head Vladimir Vasilyev met with the two deputies separately to talk.

President Vladimir Putin also intervened: The two men were also reportedly summoned to the presidential administration and given a thorough dressing-down.

Meanwhile, Kadyrov issued a lengthy public statement explaining the rationale for coopting former Alfa members to train Chechen Interior Ministry troops. He flatly denied that any fistfight took place, suggesting that Zhuravlev “might have slipped” in the course of what Kadyrov described as a heated argument. For good measure, Kadyrov also criticized as “incomprehensible” Naryshkin’s proposal to involve the police in investigating the incident.

Just a few hours later, Zhuravlev and Delimkhanov announced their reconciliation. Zhuravlev added obsequiously that he hopes federation subject heads, and Kadyrov in particular, “never yield ground when taking crucial decisions.”

It thus appears probable that Kadyrov intervened directly with Putin on behalf of Delimkhanov, whereupon the two Duma deputies were summoned to the presidential administration, and Zhuravlev was ordered to backpedal. 

Whether Kadyrov has become the tail that wags the Putin dog, or whether Putin is simply prepared to indulge Kadyrov’s whims because he views him as the sole effective counterweight to any attempt by the North Caucasus insurgency to sabotage the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi in February is impossible to state with any certainty. What can be chronicled are the numerous public statements in praise and support of Kadyrov from senior Russian officials, including Federation Council chair Valentina Matviyenko and former Audit Chamber head Sergei Stepashin.

Stepashin made headlines four years ago by commenting with regard to Kadyrov’s annual income declaration that “he owns the entire republic.” Visiting Grozny two years ago, he asked why funds from the federal budget were being spent on the construction of ostentatious skyscrapers rather than factories. During a subsequent visit in June 2013, however, Stepashin could not praise Kadyrov and his achievements highly enough, referring to Chechnya as a role model for other Russian regions. That volte-face raises the question whether Stepashin might have been bribed or bought off or, alternatively, threatened to compel him to revise his public opinion.
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Comment Sorting
by: Eugenio from: Vienna
December 11, 2013 13:22
Will Victor Yanoukowitsch ask Ramzan Kadyrov to use his conflict-settlement skills in order to calm down the pro-EU movt in Kiew :-))?
In Response

by: Alex Gardner from: USA
December 11, 2013 14:24
Ramzan Kadyrov is NOT pro-russian! He is simply milking the Kremlin-cow in order to strengthen his own power! Very soon a war will break out between Kadyrov and Moscow,i have no doubt! In 1-2 years this Pseudo-friendship will finally collapse!!!
In Response

by: Anonymous
December 12, 2013 08:04
Kadirov is a kind of man, who worship to "power". His tribe won the leadership game in Chechenia with help of Russians. İf Russians dont help him, other tribes will eliminate him and his relatives. Then you will see another kind of "Kadirov" will come.

Dagestan warlords want "İchkeri" again. Ancient times, İchkeri was a trade land for Dagestanian lords. They were sell and take this forest lands, between themselves. Then Russians came and İchkeri began to "no-men's land". Migrants had a common language, they used Nohcho-Motto (Chechen language), and they named "Chechens". And now we called there "Land of Kadirov".

Dreaming the : "Kadirov will opposite to Russia", is very tragic. Russia will expand over Azerbaijan and Armenia, and Georgia. What is the "value" of Kadirov's ass for Russians ? Russians pay 1 / 10 of, what they pay for Dagestanian warlords, to stop İslamic nationalism against Russians.
In Response

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
December 13, 2013 14:51
Yes, Alex, the pseudo-friendship will collapse, there will be a war between Moscow and Grozny - and it's at this very moment that the US will jump in and bomb Putin out of power in Moscow the same way they bombed Bashar out of power in Damascus last September :-)).

by: Anonymous
December 21, 2013 03:31
Kadyrov is milking Russia and terrorizing all of Chechnya. When/if there is a war between Moscow and Kadyrov, it will demonstrate Putin's political collapse. However I believe, Putin's collapse will come from Ukraine and Moscow, before it comes from Kadyrov.

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.