Chechnya’s Police Bosses: Alkhanov and Alaudinov

Although most of the news accounts have understandably been about changes at the centre in Medvedev’s ‘revolution‘ in the Ministry of Internal Affairs, it is worth noting what has been happening in Chechnya, too. On 13 June 2011 Colonel Apty Alaudinov was appointed chief of the Chechen police and first deputy interior minister by President Medvedev. (By the way, it is Alaudinov, not Alayudov, as appears in some English-language reports). This follows on the heels of the reconfirmation again by executive order of Lt. Gen. (Police) Ruslan Alkhanov as Chechen Interior Minister (on 24 March). He replaced his deputy Roman Edilov, who had been acting as interim minister while Alkhanov went through the reconfirmation process.

Alaudinov is hardly well-known outside Chechnya: even a search of the Russian MVD‘s site reveals no entries for him. The official note is that he was born in 1973, making him 38. He headed of the organised crime directorate in Chechnya from November 2005 to September 2008, was the deputy minister for economic security and was appointed to head the Chechnya directorate of the Justice Ministry in 2009. He has received a number of decorations, including the Order of Kadyrov, the grandiosely-egotistical medal President Ramzan Kadyrov instituted as Chechnya’s highest award. In his first public statement after his appointment, he made a point of praising the Chechen president.

Alkhanov is definitely one of the ‘Kadyrovtsy’, the paramilitary supporters of the president who were then brought into the Chechen security apparatus. Like Ramzan’s father, Akhmad, he was a rebel commander (this is charmingly described in his official biography as ‘enlisting in the internal affairs bodies’ in September 1991) who then switched sides and joined the pro-Moscow forces, and he has been acting and then formal interior minister since 2004. However, Alaudinov might be considered one of a new breed of ‘Kadyrovtsy 2.0’. He was clearly heavily and directly involved in the ‘struggle against terrorism’ as the counter-insurgency/civil war is officially called, including a senior role commanding interior minister forces comprising former rebels. Nonetheless, he appears to be more educated and more politically-savvy than many of the rough-edged, old-school Kadyrovtsy. He has also demonstrated his usefulness and loyalty off the battlefield. In 2007, for example, he was tapped to head a new commission on combating corruption in Chechnya, a commission that did nothing to limit the embezzlement of Kadyrov and his cronies but which did help uncover convenient evidence to damn some of his rivals (not to say they they were not necessarily genuinely corrupt).

These appointments come amidst a general reshuffle of law enforcement in the North Caucasus (including the appointment of the former head of the Criminal Police in Dagestan, Major Gen. (Police) Alexander Trofimov, to be the new Ingush interior minister. In may cases, beyond a revitalisation of the struggle against both insurgency and criminality, the aim has been to undermine cosy relationships between police, political, business and criminal elites bya regular rotation of cadres. In that context it is striking how different the situation is in Chechnya. There Kadyrov has his own men in all the key MVD and security positions: once again Ramzan seems to be able to assert his autonomy from Medvedev’s Kremlin.

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