Friday, June 17, 2005

Caucasus For Sale

On June 16, investigative reporter Alexander Khinshteyn wrote an analysis of the new situation in the Caucasus following the resignation of North Ossetian President Dzasokhov and the reconfirmation of Murat Zyazikov in the post of President of Ingushetia. The first part of Khinshteyn's article is here, in my quick tr.:
The President submitted the candidature of Murat Zyazikov to the examination of the Ingush parliament. This happened two weeks after Zyazikov’s neighbour – Aleksandr Dzasokhov – announced his resignation.

Dzasokhov, now former Ossetian leader, is the only Caucasian president to have had sufficient conscience to voluntarily resign from power. If he had done it properly, of course, he would have made the announcement last year - immediately after the disgrace of Beslan – but better late than never, for the rest of his colleagues are not even thinking of saying good-bye to the throne.

They are clinging on to power by tooth and nail. They are prepared to try any subterfuge just as long as they can stay, hold their ground, last out. Power is not just about influence and esteem. It is first and foremost about money. All the Caucasian republics long ago turned into family enterprises, where the numerous relatives of the presidents have "privatised" the tastiest slices of the pie. (I have written so much about this, with concrete facts and examples, that to repeat it again is embarrassing.)

"We must make way for the young", Dzasokhov said in farewell. For the Caucasus this sounds like a challenge. The most obvious case of "making way for the young" is Daghestan’s leader Magomedal Magomedov, who has ruled the republic since the days of Chernenko. Yesterday this venerable personage celebrated his 75th birthday, but he hopes to be appointed as before. And together with him – his entire family, which has gained solid control of Daghestan.

But the crisis of power in the Caucasus is not confined merely to wild, unrestrained corruption. Its main misfortune is the incapacity of the authorities to take responsibility and to make decisions. The absence of real authority in the regions.

Where, it would be interesting to know, was that same General Zyazikov (though damn it, what kind of general is he, specially appointed by election to a comfy post in the Special Envoy's office - the candidate looked more confident in a general’s uniform), when a year ago guerrillas burst into Ingushetia? No one knows. On the evening of June 21 he was in the republic. As soon as the fighting started, he mysteriously disappeared. But subsequently he received a military decoration all the same.

And what about Ossetian President Dzasokhov, who at the moment of the assault on the Beslan school ran around the headquarters in a hysterical state, shouting that he was a “political corpse”? It was not the lives of the children that disturbed him during those moments, but his own selfish well-being...

And Daghestan’s leader, Magomedov? In response to the 20,000th meeting held at Khasavyurt after he removed the local mayor, Magomedov could think of nothing more intelligent than to dissolve the regional assembly, remove the chief of the Interior Ministry and send a group of detectives to arrest the trouble-making mayor. Were there not an immediate intervention by the Kremlin administration, it would be impossible to stop the unrest in the republic.

No surprises there. A puppet – by definition - cannot be independent. Without the experienced hand of the puppet-master it is only a piece of papier-mache wrapped in a rag.

The Kremlin brought all the Caucasian leaders to power on the end of a bayonet. Brazenly throwing the rivals around. Closing its eyes to all kinds of violations. Like a switch turning on the administrative resources.

Because in the new concept of power the principal virtue has become loyalty and controllability.

Let them steal millions. Let them trade in posts and positions. Let them stamp out any kind of form of dissent. In exchange they won’t utter a word of contradiction. Just click your fingers - and they’ll stand to attention. (It’s not for nothing that more than 80% of electors in the Caucasus vote for Putin.)

It’s true that after that the next cataclysm begins, and the bewildered presidents run about the trenches in fear. But after all, terrorist acts and attacks don’t happen every day. On the other hand, loyalty is a twenty-four hour concept...

After Beslan many people thought that now at last order would finally be restored in the Caucasus. The President sternly frowned and knit his brows. He spoke of a crisis of power. But it was all limited to the replacement of the Russian president’s Special Envoy.

Think about it: Zyazikov has been reappointed. Daghestan’s Magomedov is on his horse.

And these decisions are more eloquent than any words...
(via Marius)

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