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Crisis in the Caucasus — Putin, Kadyrov and Ukraine

Crisis in the Caucasus — Putin, Kadyrov and Ukraine
Article by: Vitaliy Portnikov
Translated by: Anna Mostovych

The hysterical reaction of Ramzan Kadyrov to the events that took place in Grozny on the eve of Vladimir Putin’s address to the Federal Assembly even more than the fighting itself in the Chechen capital indicates that we are dealing with a new round of tension in the North Caucasus.

It appears that the battle between the Chechen security forces and the militants has ended. This would be the time to speak about stability and peace. However, Kadyrov cannot control himself. He has threatened to destroy the homes of the families of suspected militants and to expel them from Chechnya (and this despite the fact that they are leaving the republic as soon as possible). He is even threatening Ukrainian parliamentarians who dared to compare the situation in Chechnya with the situation in the occupied regions of Ukraine. Meanwhile, the comparison is clearly not to Kadyrov’s advantage. On the one hand, he is fighting for the territorial integrity of Russia and is ready to destroy fellow citizens who are advocating the independence of Chechnya. On the other hand, he is sending Chechen forces to fight against the territorial integrity of Ukraine and supporting other militants. Where is the logic?

There is logic here, however. Kadyrov is Putin’s vassal and ready to carry out any order of the Kremlin lord. It is more than logical. It is inevitable. If Putin goes, Kadyrov’s regime either will  be replaced by a new Russian president or it will be swept away by civil war in Chechnya. The conditions for such a war existed earlier as well. However,  they have only increased with the new unstable situation. The battles in Grozny are only the first drops of rain on the red-hot roof of new clashes in the long-suffering republic.

Kadyrov has established a real personal dictatorship in Chechnya . It was only through dictatorial powers and the support of his own clan from the Tsentoroi village that he has been able to suppress the resistance  of the supporters of independence and the opposition of the representatives from other clans, including those loyal to Moscow. But such a dictatorship is possible only when there is a relationship with a strong center. What happened in Grozny has demonstrated that Kadyrov’s enemies are no longer convinced of Putin’s power nor in the prospects of his vassal. Otherwise, they would not have succeeded in carrying out a daring operation on the very eve of a very important event for Putin and Kadyrov.

The fact that any crisis in Russia inevitably leads to destabilization in the Caucasus is not news. What is newsworthy is the fact that Putin, who has represented himself as the chief enemy of separatism, is also the main sponsor of separatism. It is this fact that may undermine further crackdowns by Kadyrov. There is no one who can explain to the Chechen people why (separatism) is acceptable for Crimea and the Donbas but not for them.

Putin and Kadyrov have destroyed their own glass house with the heavy stones of shortsightedness.

Translated by: Anna Mostovych
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