The sovereign can no longer say, "You shall think as I do on pain of death;" but he says, "You are free to think differently from me, and to retain your life, your property, and all that you possess; but if such be your determination, you are henceforth an alien among your people."

(Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, 1835)

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Ramzan Vs. Dmitry?

Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of the Chechen Republic, has long been known for his harsh and often brutal counter-insurgency policies. As a result, many have wondered how the relationship between Kadyrov and Dmitry Medvedev would evolve. This article in Radio Free Europe gives an indication that the two men have differing perspectives on what direction security policies in the North Caucasus should take.

Following the recent bombings on the Moscow metro system Medvedev offered a five point plan for countering militancy in the region:

1) Strengthen the police and security forces
2) Continue to hunt down and eliminate terrorists
3) Provide material aid to militants that lay down their arms
4) Address the socioeconomic problems that are facilitating the recruitment of young men and women to militant groups
5) Enhance the role of the Muslim clergy

While hunting down and killing militants is nothing new, placing a greater emphasis on the socioeconomic problems perhaps is. This 'emphasis' may create divisions between Medvedev and Kadyrov with the latter prioritising the catching and killing of militants while the former favours the provision of social programmes and material support.

If a rift between the two does begin to emerge then Medvedev will be faced with a dilemma: socioeconomic problems are perhaps the root cause of North Caucasian militancy and this has to be addressed, but at the same time Kadyrov has presided over a normalization of the Chechen security situation - something that Medvedev will not want to risk unraveling. There is also the question of Vladimir Putin, whose meteoric rise to power is partly explained by the role he played in orchestrating the Second Chechen War. Is the North Caucasus one area where Putin's word will always reign supreme?

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