Staunton, Nov. 5 – Vladimir Putin has frequently complained that the Bolsheviks placed a time bomb under the Soviet Union by creating the national republics that went their own way in 1991. But according to Vladimir Pastuhov, the current Kremlin leader has placed a similar one under the Russian Federation by his relationship with Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov.
“The Kremlin uses Kadyrov as its soldier,” the London-based Russian analyst says. “But Kadyrov conducts himself so that it is unclear who is leading whom in this country.” In fact, he and the Caucasus “ever more frequently dictate their own conditions” to Putin (echo.msk.ru/programs/personalno/2930722-echo/).
The highly personalized relationship between Putin and Kadyrov is “by no means clear,” Pastukhov continues; but in its current form, “it is a bomb” under the Russian Federation that almost certainly will go off when Putin leaves the scene or when the Kremlin leader tries to change things regarding Chechnya in his own favor.
On the one hand, there is no one else in the Putin elite capable of dealing with Kadyrov in the ways Putin has; and almost all of them will be leaving the scene at about the same time – again like in the Soviet Union in the 1980s – because they are members of a similarly aging cohort
And on the other, Putin remains so pleased about what Kadyrov can do for him that he shows little sign of reining him in and preventing things that serve Kadyrov’s interests but don’t serve Russia’s. That suggests Kadyrov has the whip hand in this relationship, exactly the status that other leaders on the periphery aspire do but don’t yet have.
It is striking that the Kremlin leader who calculates so carefully the limits he needs to impose on others in order to maintain himself and his clique in power does not do so in the case of Kadyrov, precisely the kind of neglect that leaders in the stagnation period of the USSR were guilty of in their desire to keep everything unchanged.
As a result, those leaders did gain a little temporary stability but only at the cost of a future collapse, exactly the kind of situation that Putin and his team may find themselves in given the Kremlin leader’s approach to Kadyrov.