Grozny, Chechnya. Photo: REUTERS/Denis Sinyakov

19 January 2019, 08:33

Demand to write off Chechnya's debts creates precedent for Northern Caucasus

The mentioning of protest sentiments in the demand to write off Chechen debts for supplied natural gas will allow other regions of Northern Caucasus to put forward similar claims, the experts interviewed by the "Caucasian Knot" believe.

The "Caucasian Knot" has informed on January 16 that the Zavodskoy District Court of Grozny satisfied the lawsuit in which the Chechnya's Prosecutor's Office had demanded from the "Gazprom Mezhregiongaz Grozny" Company to write off the populations' debts worth over 9 billion roubles. Mass demands of gas company officials to claim the debts "created social tensions in the society and could lead to people's protest actions," the Prosecutor's Office explained.

The demand of the Chechen Prosecutor's Office (PO) to write off the gas debts and the motivation of this demand make an unprecedented case, said Professor Natalia Zubarevich, an expert in socio-economic development of regions from the Moscow State University.

According to her story, she had not heard before about such writing off the debts of region's residents, especially under the pretext of preventing possible "protest actions." "This is something new: such a motivation is hard to imagine. If I understand correctly, it can be interpreted as follows: 'As long as we aren't shooting at you, guys, you'll forgive us everything.' I treat it as blackmail," Ms Zubarevich told the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent.

Alexei Malashenko, a political analyst and the head of scientific researches at the Institute "Dialogue of Civilizations", has also treated the motivation of the PO's claim as unprecedented.

According to his version, the demand creates a dangerous precedent: after Chechnya, other republics of Northern Caucasus may demand to write off their debts under the threat of protest sentiments.

Mr Malashenko is sure that the claim to write off the debts was made with the direct participation of the head of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, who is aware of the growing social tensions in his republic, and seeks to mitigate them by demonstrating, at the same time, that "he is defending people's interests," the expert has stated.

Svetlana Gannushkina, the head of the "Civil Assistance" Committee, has also linked the demand to write off the Chechen debts with Kadyrov's self-promotion. Such a decision, if adopted, will really increase his popularity, she has noted.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on January 18, 2019 at 07:24 pm MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

Author: Oleg Krasnov, Gor Aleksanyan; Source: CK correspondent

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