It goes without saying that the election is necessary. However, the situation in the republic is not simple, because of the presence of military rule. I have to say that elections, even in the most peaceful region, always create a very difficult time for regional state institutions, including security structures.
In 2001-2002, I told the president that the election should take place when the war was over, at a time when we had returned to peaceful life. We agreed upon that. However, I can see now that the election cannot be delayed any longer.
We need to put an end to rumors that have started appearing in certain circles of the republic. They say that Kadyrov is afraid of running, so he is trying to delay the election deliberately. They say that the authorities continue appointing Kadyrov to various positions, making him an ambassador, then a mufti, then the head of a corporation. These rumors prevent the Chechen administration from working in a stable way. The election should take place to avoid this ridiculous gossip.
I am sure it will take place in the very near future. When we were conducting the referendum, a lot of people were thinking it would not be possible because of the threat of acts of terrorism. But we conducted it! People are inclined to go to the polls today.
According to the latest research in the republic, you come in fourth on a popularity list in Chechnya after State Duma Deputy Aslambek Aslakhanov, former Chairman of the Russian Federation Supreme Council Ruslan Khasbulatov and Moscow entrepreneur Malik Saidullayev. At the same time, you top the list of people who enjoy the least amount of confidence. In one poll, 61.5 percent of respondents said, with absolute certainty, that Kadyrov should not be elected.
That poll was definitely ordered by someone, I have no doubt about it. Oct. 5 will reveal everybody's place in the ratings.
In addition, the people who have conducted these polls - they do not live in
How do you estimate your opponents' chances? Can they pose serious competition for you in the election?
I say it again - time will tell. I do not want to be philosophical about the seriousness of my competitors; I do not want to discuss that. One can see with the naked eye what they have done and contributed to the
Where were they in 1997-1999, and what were they doing when I was fighting Wahhabism? What were they doing to prevent the war? I have been living in
I always said that Wahhabism is unacceptable for the Chechen nation. We are Muslims, and we did not convert to Sufi Islam just a couple of days ago. They tried to thrust an idea upon us that had been originally invented against Islam, albeit allegedly under the banner of Islam.
Do you see the
I was strongly against the introduction of a Sharia government in the republic - but not because I did not want such a thing. I am working hard for it, actually. But I know that we are not ready. One has to nurture a new generation, to raise children in the spirit of Islam.
The Sharia regulations that they gave us were simply an interpretation of the Sudanese ones. They were approved by Yandarbiyev, and he did not ask anyone. When Aslan Maskhadov and I visited
Furthermore, who dictated Islam to us? Movladi Udugov, who does not have any idea what Islam is? Or Maskhadov and Yandarbiyev? Who are they? They do not know the bases of Islam, they do not understand it.
All these people ran a separatist policy deliberately .
Why is all this happening in
Military troops were withdrawn from
Non-Muslims were allegedly converting to Islam. It is ridiculous to talk about such a thing . Becoming a Muslim for them implied growing a beard and learning how to pronounce "salam aleykum." What kind of a Muslim is that?
I grew up in a very religious family. I could read the Qu'ran easily at the age of five. Do you think I can stay calm when such people try to teach me what Islam is, how to pronounce it and what to do with it?!
If Yeltsin and Maskhadov signed a peace treaty between
But you declared Jihad on
Yes, I was on that side, and I am proud that I was able to choose the right way to go. There are specific reasons for why I declared Jihad and why I changed my position. That was a time when people were gripped with the idea of liberation. They thought that people like Dudayev or Yandarbiyev wanted freedom and an Islamic state for
And what happened next?
There is a rule of Sharia: If the enemy wants to suppress you, you are supposed to put up a strong resistance. But the enemy did not come on its own: We brought it to us. We went to
I appeared on television and called upon people to bring their sons, their brothers back - everyone who was going to
I objected. I said that
I addressed Ruslan Ali-Hajiyev, chairman of parliament, asking him to dismiss Maskhadov, to take power into their hands: Otherwise, a war would be inevitable. He answered that, if Maskhadov were dismissed, according to the Constitution, Arsan Alakhov would become the head of the republic. That would be even worse. I asked him to tell Arsan's people that Aslan was leading the republic to war. They did not do it, they decided not to do it, and so we had the second Chechen campaign.
No one managed to come to a consensus. When the election is over, how will it be possible to unify the republic, the Chechen nation, in order to avoid such disunity in the future?
The republic is already united - the referendum of March 23 proved it.
There are no reasons to doubt that it was the free expression of the nation's will. Even our Deputy Aslakhanov, who is constantly talking about the need to conduct negotiations with Maskhadov, was in
People took part in the referendum because they were tired of the war. They are afraid of talking about it out loud, but they have shown exactly where they stand: Yes, we want peace, and we want to be a part of
When the election is over, there will still be field commanders and their troops… How can this problem be solved? It may bring all the election results to nothing.
An elected government is needed to fight them. We need a strong police force - the Interior Ministry of the
That is why I came to conclusion that the election must take place, so that the republic can have a government. If I were to say that everything will change for the better immediately, that would not be true. The struggle will continue for a long time.
But the people who surrender are given weapons again absolutely legally. What if traitors continue to penetrate into the police? It is so easy to pretend that you surrender to the authorities and then…
If someone comes, lays down his arms and obtains legalization from me - these people are reliable, and they really work. They work very efficiently - this is known not only in
In other words, you are saying that you are in control of the situation in the republic?
We live in
Obviously, not everybody likes such an approach, and not all people will have enough patience and wisdom to understand it, but I do not see any other way. People like Yandarbiyev, Khalimov, Maskhadov - they do not live in
Do you think that federal troops need to be withdrawn from
The troops garrisoned there must leave, and the rest are supposed to leave when the local government thinks it is necessary. This moment will come after we form a strong, effective, fully equipped police force. Then, there will be no need for federal forces to stay in
Will foreign observers be allowed to examine the election in
Of course, they will. I want an honest election. I do not want us to be criticized for fabricating results, and I will try hard to let observers be present at the election, including foreign observers. Everyone was invited to the referendum in March. If someone wanted to come to
Furthermore, the things that are happening in
Your future opponent at the election Malik Saidullayev says that Kadyrov does not have any support in
I do not want to say anything about Malik, because he does not represent anything. He is a soap bubble. In 1997-1998, after federal troops had been withdrawn from
As far as Maskhadov is concerned, he has only 0.2 percent, so what can be said about the support of the people? Does it happen anywhere that a person who thinks of himself as a leader has only 0.2 percent support? Who considers him to be a liberator nowadays? You think that people go out in the streets holding Maskhadov's picture with slogans in support of him? People are cursing him! They have already realized that Maskhadov does not want to do anything for them.
Yet, they still believe in a better future. They are exhausted, but they want to live. The students prove that. We have 20,000 students, 220,000 schoolchildren. Hospitals are working in
The people have already determined
We are currently working on a treaty to divide up authority. We need an economic status to attract investment, to keep everything in the republic and not let it vanish somewhere else. I have submitted my suggestions about this to the Russian government. I think that
Does this mean that the administration of the republic will co-ordinate the industrial infrastructure according to its own plans?
I have said it before, and I will say it again - any enterprise must have an owner. Only an owner will try to restore production - this it is my personal opinion. For the time being, all Chechen enterprises are federal property. When the parliament is elected, we will discuss this question together: Either to privatize, or to sell, in order to attract investment.
Akhmad Kadyrov was interviewed by Igor Kulagin and Peter Lavelle
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