By Valery Dzutsev
On February 8, arguably the most illustrious leader of the Russian opposition, Alexei Navalny, attacked Ramzan Kadyrov in his blog entry in response to Kadyrov’s earlier derogatory statements (http://navalny.livejournal.com/, February 8). Kadyrov, known for his close relationship to Vladimir Putin, called Navalny a “real chatterbox” that “acts against the people of Russia.” Referring to Navalny’s crusade against corruption in the Russian government, Kadyrov alleged that in his revelations Navalny does not provide any names “because he is afraid.” Kadyrov concluded that “Navalny is a coward” (http://www.baltinfo.ru/2012/01/24/Kadyrov-nazval-mitinguyuschikh-vragami-Rossii-a-Navalnogo---boltunom-255025, January 24).
Seizing on this opportunity, Navalny published the results of his investigation of the Chechen police’s car inventory acquisitions, naming and shaming several people in Kadyrov’s entourage, such as minister interior of Chechnya, Ruslan Alkhanov, and his deputy, Roman Edilov. It transpired that the ministry interior of Chechnya planned to acquire 15 Mercedes-Benzes and one Porsche Cayenne for the total price of over $3 million. Apart from the striking luxury of the police cars for the Chechen republic, another dubious feature of the government agency’s acquisition process came to light. No organization bid to supply the cars and the previous auctions of the Chechen ministry interior also did not have any bidders. Russian antitrust government agency confirmed that the Chechen government had not requested permission to buy the needed equipment without an auction. So Navalny concluded that either the Chechen ministry did not buy anything in the past few years or did it in violation of existing legislation (http://navalny.livejournal.com/, February 8).
Ramzan Kadyrov’s attempts to curry favor with Vladimir Putin may backfire against both men as the general Russian public is increasingly against lavish spending on the North Caucasus and the North Caucasians as such. The situation poses a suitable opportunity for the Russian opposition to expose corruption in Putin’s government. Putin and Kadyrov are so closely related to each other that the opposition may expect its attack against Kadyrov will inevitably inflict considerable harm on Putin.