SERGEI SNEGOV: FINANCIAL "BLACK HOLE" OF CHECHNYA
After a fairly long period of time, Chechnya is again featured on the front pages of Russian newspapers. It is not military reports that are in the focus of the press this time. Search for money is in progress — the money for restoration of the republic, which has allegedly been transferred from Moscow but either has not reached Chechnya or has reached it but got into the wrong hands. The everlasting search for the Chechen money, which has been going on since the beginning of the first Chechen campaign, reminds, to a great extent, of the search for the "Communist Party's gold" as for the political capital built on these actions and absence of any result whatsoever. Money disappears so rapidly in the big financial hole of Chechnya that it is practically impossible to trace it, but for rare exceptions. Just to remind you, it was for misappropriation of funds allocated by the federal centre to rebuild Grozny after the first Chechen war, that Beslan Gantamirov, the mayor of the city, was sued. Grozny has not become any less ruinous since then. As before, no restoration works are going on; but amnestied Gantamirov, after promotion to the rank of the Ministry of Interior colonel and his work as Deputy Head of the Republican Administration, has found himself, as a result, in his former office. In the meantime, the search for the "lost" money is in full swing again. Not so long ago, the R.F. Accounting Chamber has conducted a comprehensive check of financing the restoration works in Chechnya. According to scarce reports from this supervisory body, "gross violations have been revealed". The Accounting Chamber does not mention the kind of violations committed (the specific amounts stolen from the money allocated). News from Chechnya, however, speaks for itself. Some days ago Lieutenant-General Stanislav Kavun, Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the internal troops of the R.F. Ministry of Interior, said that the soldiers of the 46th brigade of the internal troops in Chechnya would be compelled to spend winter in tents. Money has not been transferred to quarter soldiers in the republic. Moving of the Chechen Administration to Grozny can be upset as in the city there are no restored buildings to house the bodies of authority. In Grozny, practically, there is no housing and no chance to get a job. New tractors have appeared in rural areas of Chechnya, but there is no fuel. Budget users' wages and old age pensions — by the way, one of main arguments in support of the second Chechen campaign was that the aged at last started receiving their pensions and budget users their wages — have already been in arrears in Chechnya for several months. Moreover, news agencies have released information that Chechen teachers are going to join the all-Russia teachers' strike. In the lowlands of the republic, teachers have not received their salary for almost two months and in the highlands, according to some sources, they have not seen any money at all. By the way, schools are a separate question to talk about. Last spring they continuously televised happy Chechen children who started going to school again after a many years' break. The process has reversed now. The ITAR-TASS Agency reports: "Classes will terminate in many villages when cold weather sets in, as many school premises are not winterised". "The republican authorities are trying all ways to calm educationalists and to justify their helplessness by absence of financing from Moscow", the agency continues. The funniest thing is that Moscow provides funding. To finance vital activities in the Chechen Republic, the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation transferred 180.2 million roubles in 1999 and 910.7 million roubles in the first half of this year. But where this money has gone is a problematic question.