The Chechen capital of Grozny, where this afternoon the third man in twelve months to hold a Presidency widely regarded as the world’s most dangerous, Alu Alkhanov, was edgily sworn in beside a dozen bodyguards and five specialist ‘bomb-checkers’ who spent the ceremony looking nervously round the room and twitching.
“The inauguration passed without major incident, all in all it was a good afternoon.” Said Yuri Sandonov, a
government advisor who witnessed the swearing in. “The ceremony went on for more than an hour, and
during that time there were no attempts on the President’s life, or explosions decimating nearby buildings.
At one point we heard what sounded like gunfire in the street outside so several men dived on top of Mr. Alkhanov to protect him, but it turned out to be a faulty motorcycle.”
Although the job as President of this war-torn Russian province was advertised across Soviet state departments, throughout the press, and online, no CVs were received by the closing date for applications. Employment experts speculate this may be linked to the fact that four of the previous five Presidents have been assassinated by Chechen separatists funded by Osama Bin Laden. Eventually Alkhanov, a former head of the civil service and renowned yes-man, was visited by a group of secret police in the middle of the night and ‘convinced’, with Russian President Vladimir Putin proving to be extremely persuasive during a brief interview. The Soviet leader then organised an efficient and well-rigged election, before hailing the new President of Chechnya’s bravery on state television as Alkhanov sat beside him, pasty-faced. In return for taking on the riskiest job in Europe, Alu will receive rewards commensurate with his promotion. These cannot be officially disclosed, but are said to include a 3% rise in salary and a “I’m very pleased to have the privilege of serving mother Russia.” Announced the new President in a statement issued from an undisclosed and heavily fortified safe house, currently under twenty-four hour armed guard. “I hope to serve Moscow successfully and put the priorities of the majority first. My
people are mostly peaceful Chechens, and hopefully I won’t get blown to bits by the minority. Unlike my predecessor. Together we can overcome the evil of terrorism, I truly believe that. Tell my mother I’m okay.”
Islamist Chechen rebels have fought a bloody battle against Russian rule ever since the mid-1990s. During this time there have been two official civil wars, thousands of occupying troops killed or injured, and endless bombings. Alkhanov is the seventh of Putin’s puppet Presidents to be installed during this period, the previous leaders having been shot outside their offices, blown up while inspecting soldiers, killed in suicide attacks on a motorcade and, in one nasty incident, poisoned with cheap Greek wine. The Russian President has praised the heroism of these men, who gave their lives for a job they didn’t really want, and is said to be “disappointed but not surprised” his finest men weren’t keen on applying for the role each time it became vacant.
“Some terrible events have occurred in the past, that’s for sure, but we’ve learned from these experiences.”
Asserted Yuri Sandonov who was wearing an unconvincing moustache and what looked like a false nose
when we met him in the only Grozny café that hasn’t been reduced to a pile of rubble. “Every possible
safeguard is now in place to ensure Alu remains in his post for a long, long time to come. For instance,
the job description no longer includes public appearances, while officials who are supposed to be meeting
the President aren’t informed where they have to go until the last minute. If he’s forced to travel we
immediately set up checkpoints at one-mile intervals along the route, and Alu has food tasters, protective
clothing and a trusted inner circle with really big guns. We’ve utilized the latest technology too. No one
can approach Mr. Alkhanov without passing through a metal detector, and there exists a one-mile phone
black-out around him at all times. The privilege of the post means it can be difficult to have much of a family or social life, I agree. But Alu’s a survivor, he’s plucky. This man survived several assassination attempts before he was even sworn in. I think we might have got lucky this time, and luck’s the most important thing in this job.”