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RAMZAN KADYROV AND CHECHNYA’S FUTURE
02.03.07
MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti political commentator Yury Filippov)

On March 2, the Chechen Parliament endorsed Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov, 30, as the new president of Chechnya, the scene of an almost decade-long war against separatists, terrorists, and criminal gangs.

President Vladimir Putin nominated Kadyrov to this position shortly after a personal meeting. The Russian leader praised Kadyrov for his contribution to the republic’s recovery during his work in the government. He expressed the hope that in his new position, Kadyrov would continue his work to rebuild Chechnya at the same pace, and would encourage the public to contribute to the republic’s development and consolidate Russia’s territorial integrity.

Today, Kadyrov is indeed Moscow’s best bet. He became the political leader of the recently rebellious republic long before he occupied the presidential seat. On the one hand, Kadyrov had to wage a merciless struggle against Wahhabi terrorists; on the other, he had to continue the process of national reconciliation launched by his father, Chechen President Ahmad Kadyrov, who lost his life in an act of terror in May 2004.

Pardoned militants who once fought against Russian federal forces are the backbone of the Chechen armed units, which obey Kadyrov without a murmur. The consolidation of all influential forces in the republic, including former field commanders, around Kadyrov is making it easier to overcome the consequences of the civil war. In the two and a half years since his father’s death, Kadyrov has proved his ability to honor commitments to the federal government. Importantly, Kadyrov, who is actively rebuilding the republic and trying to create jobs, enjoys the support of rank-and-file citizens. This support is likely to grow, turning Kadyrov from a strictly military leader into a “normal” regional one.

In the final analysis, this is what Moscow needs from Ramzan Kadyrov. He is no longer the field commander who fought against Russia. He is a young and promising Russian politician, a Hero of Russia, honorary member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and Putin’s foot soldier.

With this image, Kadyrov has a big future in Russia. The only problem for Moscow is that politically Kadyrov is linked with Russia primarily by his personal agreements with Putin, who is going to leave his position in May 2008. Chechnya’s future largely depends on what relations Kadyrov will have with the new Russian president and his administration. It will also be influenced by Kadyrov’s ability to expand his horizontal ties with the Russian elite, Russia’s other regions, and Russian society in general, from which Chechnya is still isolated in many respects. Kadyrov’s number one task is to overcome this isolation.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti. -0-