For Chechen hetman Ramzan Kadyrov, last weekend’s Duma elections was just another opportunity to show his loyalty to Moscow and further entrench his own power. 99.36 percent of the Chechen vote–574,101 votes out of an electorate of 580,918–went to United Russia. A staggering turnout of 99.5 percent. A number which appeared to Central Electoral Commission head Vladimir Churov as “absolutely pure, transparent and logical.”
Kadyrov himself explained the United Russia’s excessive landslide as simply the reflection of the people’s trust. “There’s nothing unexpected here” he said. “The federal list was headed by head of state Vladimir Putin and in Chechnya the president of the republic was first on the list. The vote showed how much trust the leaders of the country enjoy.”
Yes, trust. And Kadyrov made sure to capitalize on this “trust”. For alongside electing four members to the State Duma, all of which are part of Kadyrov’s khvost–Akhmar Zavgayev, Adam Delimkhanov (Chechen deputy Prime Minister), Magomed Vakhayev (head of the Chechen Constitutional Court) and Said Yakhihajiev–was a referendum that changed the Chechen Constitution so Kadyrov could be president in perpetuity. The referendum received 85 percent approval. Considering that United Russia got 99 percent of the vote, perhaps Kadyrov’s 85 percent should be considered a somewhat of a defeat. What? His people couldn’t muscle that extra 15 percent?
For Kadyrov’s allies, the referendum’s passage was all part of Plan Kadyrov. Chechen Parliament speaker Dukvakh Abdurakhmanov said, “Two terms of four years – that’s just a western stereotype. Who came up with the idea, why do we have to follow it? I think that to end all the transformations and reforms we have begun a leader needs between 22 and 27 years.” 22 to 27 years!? When do the coronation invitations go out?