Thursday, July 14, 2016

Kadyrov’s Reliance on Narrow Circle of Trusted Associates Creating Problems, Russian Experts Say

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 14 – Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov’s reliance on a narrow circle of family and clan members he trusts is making it more difficult for him to find people to fill all key jobs and reduces both social lifts and an adequate flow of information about conditions in the republic is a problem, Russian experts say.

            But they disagree as to how much the situation they see now represents a departure from his practice as ruler of that North Caucasus republic since 2007, with two seeing the situation deteriorating but one insisting that Kadyrov has always behaved in this way because it is typical of how things are done in Grozny (

            Dmitry Oreshkin, a Russian political scientist, says it is increasingly the case that Kadyrov “fears attracting new people” for service in his regime, preferring instead those who have been “tested” and who are “strongly dependent on him.”  Unfortunately for him, many of these people only tell him what he wants to hear, reducing his ability to anticipate problems.

            Kadyrov as a result of the behavior of those around him thinks that “everything is fine and under control.”  But in fact, Oreshkin argues, the situation is quietly decaying. Correcting it “will be impossible,” however, because “none of the entourage of the Chechen leader will tell him the truth,” lest he face a slew of denunciations from others.

            Those around Kadyrov share his view that it is best not to allow new people to come “’from the outside,’” and as a result, “’they will support Kadyrov as long as he is effective for them.”  What that means, Oreshin says, is that neither they nor he will “react to the opinion of citizens.” Instead, they themselves will do what they want as long as they can.

            Mikhail Remizov, the president of the Moscow Institute of National Strategy, agrees and points out that as a result of Kadyrov’s approach, the Chechen leader does not have a deep bench from which to draw new people – and many of those he does draw upon lack the skills necessary to do their jobs.

            But Elena Milashina, a “Novaya gazeta” journalist who specializes on the North Caucasus, suggests that it is a mistake to think what Kadyrov is doing is some kind of defense mechanism.  Instead, she argues, it is simply “a typical structure for organizing a clan-based system of power.”

            “Chechnya was always governed in this way,” she says. And thus “to say that now something has changed and that Kadyrov is afraid of something is laughable.”  In support of her argument, she notes that a similar system of power arrangements exists “throughout the entire Caucasus,” including in Daghestan and Ingushetia.

            Such arrangements, of course, are “far from ideal” because they lead to “an absence of competition, choice and the possibility for more worthy people to occupy positions.”  That in turn means that the chances for upward social and political mobility are strictly limited.

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