Saturday, December 28, 2019

Kremlin Unwittingly Putting Delayed Action Mines under Russian Power in North Caucasus, Sidorov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, December 27 – As a result of its imposition of “aggressive” colonial rule both at the federal district and republic level in the North Caucasus, the Kremlin is inserting several delayed action mines that are likely to explode when Vladimir Putin leaves the scene and cost Russia control not only of Chechnya but of other republics there as well, Vadim Sidorov says.

            Indeed, by failing to develop genuine federalism and relying on the populations and governments those populations might have elected, the regionalist commentator says, the Putin government is doing more to undermine Russian rule in that restive region than any of the existing national movements (

                The fundamental problem is that the Kremlin wants to impose outside rule, often of those with military backgrounds, not only at the level of the North Caucasus Federal District but in all of the republics that FD consists of because it views the continued existence of any opposition or even civil society as “an impermissible luxury” not only there but throughout Russia.

            According to Sidorov, “Ingushetia all these years has remained a problem for the Kremlin precisely because of the republic spirit maintained in it,” a spirit that has helped power the Ingush opposition which also draws support for the republic’s Muslim Spiritual Directorate (MSD) and Council of Teips.

            Moscow has deployed its regional “general governorship” against Ingushetia, not only from above but by installing military figures and outsiders within the republic who can be counted on to impose the center’s will against the restive population. And it has changed republic leaders as needed to try to break the Ingush.

            The central authorities have made similar moves against the other republics in the region, but Chechnya seems an exception. Its ruler Ramzan Kadyrov “possessed enormous authority and more than that he is permitted to have what the other republics can only dream about – his own army of some 30,000 men.”

            But Sidorov argues, citing the words of Chechen blogger Tumso Abdurakhmanov, the things Kadyrov has “are indications not of independence but on the contrary of the absolute dependence of the leader of Chechnya on the Kremlin.” That Chechnya is beyond the control of Moscow now is “an illusion,” the Chechen blogger says.

            At the present time, Chechnya is “more under the control of the Kremlin than any other region,” Abdurakhmanov says.

            But these situations Ingush and Chechen highlight Moscow’s “dilemma.” Is it better to have in place “an ambitious local leader who totally controls local society or to have an appointee the loyalty of whom is not in question but who is incapable of establishing full control over the local milieu?”

            Kadyrov’s status is totally dependent on his personal relationship with Putin, and when Putin departs from the scene, so too will Kadyrov, something that will open up two scenarios. The Kremlin may try to move as it has in Chechnya by imposing a Chechen on Grozny who is an outsider, or it may simply lose control of that republic as a result of power struggles in Moscow.

            The latter is more likely given that Chechnya retains at least as much “protest potential” as shown by Ingushetia. Moscow has not taken the steps necessary to change that, relying instead on personal vassal relations with a republic leader. Once he is gone, so too will Moscow’s position in Grozny.

            Given that likelihood, the possibility that other republics in the region may this time around follow a similar path is something that no one should discount and that everyone should recognize whose policies have led to that outcome.

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