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Russia's North Caucasus Envoy 'Lacks Power' For Reforms

MOSCOW -- Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's envoy to the recently created North Caucasus Federal District has returned to Moscow after a series of visits to the republics in the volatile district, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

Aleksandr Khloponin, who is also a deputy prime minister, is due in June to present the Kremlin with a new strategy for the social and economic development of the violence-plagued North Caucasus.

Experts say this will necessitate reforming regional government structures to curb the powers of the republics' leaders.

Such reforms could result in a standoff between Khloponin and Chechen Republic head Ramzan Kadyrov over the allocation of federal budget funds for reconstruction in Chechnya.

Khloponin wants those funds paid directly to construction companies and small and medium-sized businesses, which would bypass Kadyrov's administration.

Ruslan Kutayev, a Chechen political scientist and head of the International Committee on the Problems of the North Caucasus, told RFE/RL that Khloponin "wants the [financial] resources to reach the people for them to understand and realize that the federal center is ready to support civil society."

However, Russian political scientist Sergei Markedonov told RFE/RL that Khloponin doesn't have the power necessary to implement the reforms the Russian leadership expects from him.

"He is tasked with addressing socioeconomic issues, but in our country the whole socioeconomic sphere is political," Markedonov said.

"Without addressing political aspects, you can't tackle a single socioeconomic issue. Corporate management is completely unsuitable in this case, but the country's leaders are continuing to demand just one thing: deal with the economy and the economy only," he added.