Chechen Insurgents Likely To Continue Destabilizing Chechnya Over The Next Twelve Months; Highly Likely Ramzan Kadyrov Retains Kremlin's Support Following 2008 Russian Presidential Election

Chechnya: Key Findings

Executive Summary:

Although Russian president Vladimir Putin and pro-Kremlin Chechen president Ramzan Kadyrov claim that conditions are improving within the republic of Chechnya, the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria resistance movement remains active in disrupting the stability within Chechnya and increasingly within the North Caucasian region. Therefore, it is likely that the insurgents will continue to destabilize Chechnya, as well as increase operations throughout the other Russian republics in the North Caucasus, over the next twelve months due to the ineffectiveness of the security forces, persistent socio-economic problems, and strengthening of the insurgency’s strategy and command structure under Dokka Umarov. Additionally, despite the upcoming 2008 Russian presidential election in March that will end Putin’s reign as president, it is highly likely that Kadyrov retains the Kremlin’s support due to Putin remaining in a position of power by becoming the leading candidate for the dominant political party, United Russia, upon stepping down from the presidency.


Following Ramzan Kadyrov’s ideological change, after beginning as a separatist in Chechnya’s first war with Russia, he allied his
Ramzan Kadyrov
ambitions for a political career with Russia’s federal security forces. Upon solidifying his relationship with Russian president Vladimir Putin, Kadyrov began his ascendancy up the ranks of Chechnya’s pro-Kremlin government, first acting as the deputy prime minister to first deputy prime minister in October 2004, and then on to the Premier of Chechnya in February 2006. Then, on 5 May 2007, Kadyrov accepted the presidency of Chechnya, as Putin made sure “to eliminate all obstructions in the path of the young pawn of one of the Kremlin’s cliques.

Prior to receiving the presidential nomination, however, Kadyrov aligned his political goals with those of the Kremlin by dismissing a long standing power-sharing treaty between Grozny and Moscow, which would “undermine the concept of Russian statehood." As a result, in regards to the upcoming 2008 Russian presidential election in March, Kadyrov’s political strategy is against allying with any of the potential candidates, instead choosing to maintain a status-quo approach as an ally of the Kremlin. In further support, on 1 October 2007, Putin announced that he intends to represent Russia’s dominant political party, United Russia, as its leading candidate, thereby vowing to hold on to power within the Russian Government from a position other than through the presidency.

Upon the development of this relationship and as a sign of improving solidarity between Russia and Chechnya, on 2 August 2006, Putin signed a decree requiring that the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Interior begin planning a staged withdrawal of Russian forces under their command to start in 2007 and conclude at the end of 2008. Though, on 3 October 2007, Yakov Nedobitko, commander of the Joint Military Group in Chechnya, stated that, "the mission procedures and scope of the group will not fundamentally change" this fall or winter and that no real withdrawal of Russian forces has yet to begin as 2007 comes to an end. Another factor prohibiting the withdrawal of forces is Kadyrov’s inability to improve the socio-economic problems plaguing the republic, which include his failure to improve the high unemployment rate, acquire special economic status for Chechnya, and obtain control over his republic’s natural resources.

Graph of Insurgent Attacks in Chechnya Between September 2006 Through September 2007
In addition, an announcement of the “effectiveness” of the combined Russian and Chechen security forces came on 2 October 2007, when Dukvakha Abdurakhmanov, the speaker of the People’s Assembly of the Chechen Parliament, proclaimed that the “counter-terrorist operation” came to an end in Chechnya, asserting that there were only 30 to 70 active “militants” left in the republic. However, claiming the completion of counter-terrorist operations follows the Russian tradition in Chechnya of publicly addressing successes and deliberately hiding continued insurgent activities within the country. In September 2007 alone Russian security forces suffered twenty-one casualties in thirteen attacks in Chechnya inflicted by the insurgents, which was a decrease of only two less attacks in Chechnya compared to fifteen in September 2006. In the last thirteen months, September 2006 through September 2007, Chechnya experienced 103 individual insurgent attacks, causing 262 casualties, of which Russian security forces accounted for 214, or 81 percent, of them. Over the last four months, June 2007 through September 2007, 38 percent, or 90, of Chechnya's total attacks took place, consisting of 34 percent, or 90, of the total casualties.

The insurgent forces in Chechnya exist within the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria (ChRI), established in 1991, and are under the current leadership of president Dokka Umarov who is working towards destabilizing the Russian republics outside of Chechnya, while at the same time maintaining an active and coherent military capacity to attack the pro-Kremlin security forces loyal to president Putin. In September 2006, Umarov began appointing younger exp
Dokka Umarov
erienced separatist fighters, from the second Chechen war with Russia, to positions of power across the North Caucasian front of the resistance movement, which shows a growth in the insurgency’s internal chain of command. However, recently under Umarov’s command the ChRI resistance movement is seeking the creation of a Sharia-ruled Caliphate in the North Caucasus based on the foundations set forth by the radical Islamists of the International Jihadist movement to obtain it. Currently, Umarov is working to unite the Wahhabi Islamic followers with the traditional Chechen practice of Sunni Islam. With the introduction of Anzor Astemirov as the Head of the Sharia Court in the ChRI through a decree by Umarov on 4 September 2007 replacing Mansur Yevmirzaev, who is a Chechen Islamic theologian, shows Umarov’s attempt to incorporate regional leaders within the High Command of the resistance. Additionally, by declaring the North Caucasus resistance as one unified movement under his command, Umarov is attempting to dispel the remaining distrust between the Chechen fighters and Caucasian mujahideen. This distrust arose during the Beslan crisis in 2004 when the former Chechen warlord Shamil Basaev claimed in a letter sent to Russian president Vladimir Putin that if Russia recognized Chechen independence he would disband all insurgent groups in the Russian republics.

The resistance relies on the strategy called the "tactic of the bee," which implements the constant rotation of localized fighting groups assigned to a specific region to continually attack Russian forces with fresh, well-equipped fighters (see video below). The units consist of between ten to twelve members; however some are fewer than 5, and use tactics such as ambushes, mine-laying, sabotage, and planned assassinations. In order to carry out this strategy, the resistance relies on the integration of foreign fighters, primarily from the Chechen Diaspora community, to primarily to provide supportive functions, like sending small groups of mercenaries through developed networks, recruiting new fighters, collecting financial assistance, and training.

Additional Comments:


Source Reliability: 7.5
Analytic Confidence: 8.5

Christopher Anderson

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