26 March 2005, 02:53

Under the Sign of Kadyrov

Under the Sign of Kadyrov

Russia has been getting used to daily tragedy reports from Chechnya for more than ten years. The situation in the breakaway territory has often affected its neighbouring Caucasus republics. Budennovsk and Kizlyar, Nazran and Beslan is where the echo of the Chechen war was the loudest. A new factor of instability has been the subject of incessant discussions in the past few years though. Paradoxically enough, it links with Chechnya's law enforcement agencies, so-called "Kadyrovtsy" who are officers of the republican Security Service commanded by ex-president Akhmad Kadyrov's son, Ramzan Kadyrov.

This name first became known during the second campaign in Chechnya when Ramzan and his brothers joined their father who sided with federal forces. While it was the former Grozny mayor, Beslan Gantamirov, who was more eminent during forceful military action when he cleared the Chechen capital from rebels, it was the son of President Akhmad Kadyrov who went to the foreground as relative peace was established in Chechnya. Under his father, Ramzan assumed the most important office in the republic as he formed and headed a presidential security service, a kind militia which also included some of the former rebels. In better times, this structure could boast of more than 1,000 men.

For several years of its existence, Ramzan's elite regiment has not taken part in (nor, accordingly, got into) any serious scrapes, as was regularly the case with his predecessor, Musa Gazimagomadov, the late commander of Chechnya's special police force, not to mention federal troops deployed in the republic. Instead, it has managed to perform a few feats outside the rebellious territory, in Dagestan and Ingushetia.

Chechen refugees in Ingushetia and residents of Dagestan's border district of Khasavyurt know what the influence of Kadyrovtsy feels like. It is often them who carry out arbitrary arrests and disappearances of people in the neighbouring republics, locals say. In doing so, camouflage uniforms, Chechen security service ID and confident behaviour are considered to be half the battle. Residents of Dagestan held several public meetings and blocked a federal motorway demanding that this arbitrariness should be stemmed last year. A local police examination led to establishing that several Kadyrovtsy were rebels hiding under such a cover.

It is a pity to see the local police who are unable to confront the defiant conduct of "police officers from Chechnya" when an armed group of them is going round border districts in Ingushetia and Dagestan. After such behaviour had been intercepted twice, Chechnya's President Alu Alkhanov promised to complain to President Vladimir Putin about "systematic discrimination and persecution of Chechens in the neighbouring regions." He thinks there should be an exception from the rules to control people crossing Chechnya's administrative border for the former Chechen president's family "because the Kadyrov family have many enemies."

However, it is often demanded that such "exceptions" should be extended to every member of the Chechen Security Service, apparently on the ground that it is commanded by Ramzan Kadyrov who, in addition, recently received the Hero of Russia award. Thus, two Chechen police officers guarding Ramzan's sister were detained in Khasavyurt a while ago. They had no documents on them that would allow them to go on that trip. The incident finished literally in an hour when Kadyrovtsy had come to the Khasavyurt District Division of Internal Affairs and, shooting their guns (fortunately, in the air), captured the building and forced the local police to release both detainees.

Perhaps, this incident will be forgotten, like the case was shelved a while ago of two tipsy Kadyrovtsy setting a cafe in Kislovodsk, Stavropol territory, in an uproar and shooting. That time, they were denied "Alkhanov's exception" and delivered to the town detention centre. At Grozny's request, though, they were later released without much publicity and explanations and came back to serve their homeland.

The Akhmad Kadyrov Regiment commanded by his son Ramzan is, as a matter of course, a special structure within the scope of the local Internal Affairs Ministry, although it was created not that long time ago. Its mission, as defined by Ramzan himself, is to fight terrorists throughout Russia. When Dmitry Kozak, the Russian president's envoy to the South federal district, actually appointed Kadyrov junior to control North Caucasus law enforcement and security agencies responsible for combating terrorism, Ramzan thought there was a formal ground and opportunity to employ "his own" structures (the Security Service and the Kadyrov Regiment) in bringing order to the neighbouring regions, the Karachay-Cherkess Republic and Kabardino-Balkar Republic.

His influence is especially strong in Ingushetia where the Chechen police carry out purges of those refugees who still stay there. When the tragedy was in full swing in North Ossetia's Beslan, Ramzan pledged military support to relatives of the hostages and federal forces. Obviously, the role of a local, if very important, crime fighter does not suit the young Kadyrov. He continues to be the only one for whom an exception has been made as regards reporting to President Alu Alkhanov on his plans and movements in Chechnya and outside it.

Local leaders try to prevent the unjustified, unwarranted and unceremonious interference of Kadyrovtsy in the jurisdiction of law enforcement agencies in the neighbouring North Caucasus republics. However, "sudden operations" that still happen on the neighbours' territory lead to the exacerbation of the situation in the entire region, which is complex enough without that, and thereby spread Chechnya's atmosphere of instability to other, relatively quiet regions in the country's South. The main danger in this process is the use by Kadyrovtsy in the neighbouring republics of tough measures to combat crime, which is also aggravated by their lack of experience in investigative work which is by its nature incompatible with cavalry raids and noisy bravado.

Author: Milrad Fatullayev

Source: Nezavisimaya Gazeta, 17 January 2005

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