What Next for Chechen Gangs?
The war in Chechnya is over! Officially, that is, as actual military operations ended years ago. The consensus seems to be that the primary effect of the Kremlin downgrade is to endow pro-Russian Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov with even more power and autonomy, which given his previous disregard for human rights (and possible connections to extrajudicial killings) is not encouraging.
How will this affect the operations of Chechen criminal actors? Too soon to say but this excellent primer on Chechen organised crime by Mark Galeotti suggests a self-limiting character to Chechen gangs.
However exaggerated in the Russian media and public mind, the Chechens’ reputation for efficiency, ruthlessness and discipline is well-founded. While a powerful force within the Russian underworld, they have so far largely confined their activities to their home country. However, as they forge connections with Russian and other criminals as well as Chechen communities abroad, they are beginning to become an active presence on the world stage. Nonetheless, a limiting factor is that they are still primarily limited to members of their own community. Furthermore, the cultural identity that gives them greater coherence also limits their operations as most still seek to emulate the abreg. They are as a result less flexible and entrepreneurial in their activities than their Slavic counterparts.