Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Looks like Alu Alkhanov, the newly sworn-in president of Chechnya, has to live as dangerously as Hamid Karzai, the not-yet-elected president of Afghanistan. The New York Times' C.J. Chivers reports from yesterday's inauguration:

A band played. Children in traditional garb wished him well. The state mufti offered a prayer. Then Mr. Alkhanov slipped away in a black Mercedes-Benz sedan, beginning what can only be described as one of the world's most unsavory jobs.

The Chechen presidency became available in May when the previous president, Akhmad Kadyrov, was killed by a bomb hidden in a stadium. [...]

While Mr. Alkhanov's Kremlin support is beyond question, his legitimacy is less clear. Nongovernment organizations have pointedly dismissed his election as a farce, and warned that a charade of democracy disenfranchises moderates and will not dissuade the rebels.

On Aug. 29, the day of the "farcical" election in Chechnya, a car bomb in Kabul killed ten people and ruined the office of Dyncorps Inc., a controversial U.S. company that has been providing Hamid Karzai with bodyguards since late 2002. And, according to John Simpson, the BBC's World Affairs Editor, it wouldn't hurt, perhaps, to spend more money on those bodyguards:

[Karzai] is heavily guarded, of course, but experts in security say that not all the Americans around him are of the highest calibre. The big money for security men is in Iraq nowadays, and Karzai's bodyguards include former American policemen and rank-and-file soldiers, not always in the best physical shape.

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