Russia: May 9, 2004


In Chechnya, a rebel bomb killed the Chechen head of the Chechen government, Akhmad Kadyrov. Technically, Chechnya is a "republic" in the "Russian Federation" and Kadyrov was elected president of the Chechen Republic last October. Sergei Abramov, the Chechen Republic's prime minister, will take over as acting president until new presidential elections take place this Summer.  After the Soviet Union fell apart, the communist leadership in places like Chechnya quickly became warlords and undertook a number of legal, and illegal, enterprises. When Russia tried to intervene in 1993, the warlords united and successfully resisted. So the Russians pulled out and pretended Chechnya was still part of Russia, while the Chechens pretended they were independent. But the Chechen warlords could not agree how to run Chechnya and the province fell into anarchy during the 1990s. When Chechen kidnapping gangs began to operate throughout southern Russia and Islamic radicals invaded areas adjacent to Chechenya, the Russian army came back in 1999, and stayed. This time, some of the warlords sided with the Russians. Akhmad Kadyrov was one of these. The Russians have basically made a deal with Chechen factions that will oppose the criminal, nationalistic and Islamic radical gangs. In return,  Kadyrov (and his successor)  have a free hand in Chechnya. Kadyrov and his cronies are running several illegal scams in the area, but as long as they work with Russian troops and police to keep the other gangs under control and out of the rest of Russia, all is well. This is not a new arrangement. During the Communist period, similar informal deals were made with local strongmen. So it's back to the future. Most Chechens are tried of over a decade of violence and more and more are siding with the pro-Russian faction. While most Chechens would rather be an independent nations, they understand that this time around they failed because they were unable to unite. 


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