A Parliament Built for Kadyrov
The new Chechen parliament, which will be elected
Sunday, looks likely to be packed with allies of powerful Chechen
First Deputy Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov, and their main mandate
promises to be to prepare the way for a Kadyrov presidency.
Other local clans and interest groups can expect
to be shut out from making any major decisions in the parliament,
and ordinary Chechens probably should not count on lawmakers
to protect their interests.
"The lawmakers will not be allowed to
lobby for any interests but Kadyrov's," said Alexander
Cherkasov, a representative of Memorial, the respected human
rights organization that has been sharply critical of both Kadyrov
and the elections.
"With or without the parliament, Chechnya
will still be ruled by the man who wields the biggest gun,"
he added, referring to Kadyrov.
Eight national parties are running in the elections,
and many hastily set up their Chechen branches within the past
two months with the backing of Chechen officials. Kadyrov loyalists
have taken key posts in many of those branches. In addition,
most of the top spots on the parties' electoral lists -- including
those of United Russia -- are occupied by regional officials.
A ninth party, the liberal Republican Party,
also applied but was rejected over a technicality. Its candidates
are running in single-mandate districts.
A recent poll by Chechen authorities found
that the pro-Kremlin United Russia party would win the largest
share of the vote, with 35 percent, followed by the liberal
Yabloko party (10 percent), the Communist Party (10 percent),
the nationalist Liberal Democratic Party (6 percent), the nationalist
Rodina party (4.2 percent) and the liberal Union of Right Forces
party (3.2 percent). The other parties received support from
1 percent or less of the 1,000 respondents surveyed by Chechnya's
National Politics, Media and Information Ministry, the independent
newspaper Chechen Society reported earlier this week.
A separate survey, carried out by an independent
think tank, indicated that well over half of Chechens believed
that Kadyrov would personally determine the outcome of the elections
and that the parliament's main task would be to select the republic's
next president -- not to tackle pressing regional problems.
A total of 72 percent said Kadyrov would decide
the vote, while 9 percent said President Vladimir Putin would
determine it, 2 percent said Chechen President Alu Alkhanov
would be behind it, and 2 percent said voters would decide,
according to the poll of 1,000 people in Chechnya and 200 people
in Chechen diasporas in Ingushetia, Moscow and other regions.
The poll was carried out by Chechen-based SK-Strategia in October.
Furthermore, 51 percent said the parliament
would not solve pressing problems, while 24 percent said it
would. An overwhelming 60 percent said the parliament was needed
to approve the candidacy of the next Chechen president.
Since the start of the year, regional leaders
are no longer elected but appointed by Putin and then formally
confirmed by regional legislatures.
Kadyrov, a son of pro-Moscow Chechen President
Akhmad Kadyrov, who was assassinated last year, is largely believed
to be the real power in Chechen politics, and he appears to
be in line to become president after he turns 30 on Oct. 5 next
year. Under the Chechen Constitution, the president must be
at least 30 years old.