Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Russian Governors to Putin – ‘We’re No Worse than Kadyrov, and We Need Money Too’

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 6 – Vladimir Putin’s continuing willingness to pay enormous tribute to Ramzan Kadyrov for pacifying Chechnya and performing other services for the Kremlin leader is beginning to backfire with ever more Russian governors insisting that “we are no worse than Kadyrov and we need trillions of rubles as well.”

            On the Svobodnaya pressa portal, Moscow commentator Anton Chablin says that the Kremlin’s willingness to support Kadyrov’s latest demand for the construction of a high-speed train line that would end in Grozny has made its refusal to support projects in Russian areas especially infuriating (svpressa.ru/economy/article/207038/).

                Why at a time of budgetary stringency should Chechnya get such enormous amounts of money while others can’t get anything at all? Chablin lists projects from one end of Russia to the other that have either been rejected, put on hold or cut back even as Putin spends more and more on Chechnya and the North Caucasus more generally.

            Unfortunately, experts say, the kind of projects Chechnya is getting and the others are not are not what Russia needs. They will at best provide a short-term stimulus to the regions involved, Sergey Zhavoronkov of the Institute for Economic Policy. They will not provide the basis for long-term.

            That critique has been heard before. What is new is the rising tide of anger about Chechnya getting what it wants when Russian regions aren’t getting anything at all. They are told they must do without because of a tight budget and they want to know why Chechnya isn’t being told the same thing.

            In reposting Chablin’s article, one VKontakte group puts up two pictures, one of the beautiful home of a Chechen official that was obviously rebuilt with Russian money and the other of a disintegrating building that is the house museum of Immanuel Kant in Kaliningrad (vk.com/politicalelite?w=wall-123916919_111360).

                The group concludes that these pictures show “all that one needs to know about the priorities of Russia” – or at least the priorities of the ruling group of Putin and Kadyrov. 

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