Staunton, July 29 – Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of Chechnya, has taken great pride in announcing that he is forming five new purely Chechen military units to fight in Ukraine. But the only way he has been able to fill their ranks is to raid the local police and siloviki. As a result, those units are now seriously understaffed, officials say.
That opens the way for the still powerful underground to reemerge and possibly seize government offices in parts of Chechnya, something that would be a black eye for the Grozny leader however much praise he is getting in Moscow for his dispatch of units to Ukraine (kavkazr.com/a/umrut-vse-v-chechne-massovo-agitiruyut-vstupitj-v-ryady-silovikov/31962740.html).
One measure of just how severe the cadres shortage is in the police is that officials have announced that those who join up will not have to pay bribes and will not be at risk of being sent to fight in Ukraine. But even with those inducements, many police stations across the North Caucasian republic are nearly empty.
According to Sergey Zhavoronkov of the Liberal Russia Foundation, this “thinning of the ranks of law enforcement personnel will be interpreted by the population as an indication that the position of the current powers that be is weaking and that in turn could lead to a strengthening of the armed underground.”
Ruslan Kutayev, head of the Assembly of Peoples of the Caucasus, agrees. The fact that Kadyrov can’t attract young men to serve in the police clearly indicates that his position and that of the Kremlin in Chechnya has been weakened. Indeed, this unwillingness highlights “the powerlessness of the powers, their lack of influence, and the weakening of government forces.”
To try to get men to join his military units and the police, Kadyrov has used both threats and the influence of loyal mullahs and imams and made it clear that almost anyone between the ages of 21 and 29 will be hired and paid well. But despite that, the shortages of manpower in the police are visible to everyone, including the militants. They are thus now likely to act.
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