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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Chechen Businessmen Form Union

A union of Chechen businessmen was founded Friday in Grozny to help attract investment to the region's war-ravaged economy in the absence of federal funding.

Out of hundreds of thousands of enterprises, only a handful now operate in Chechnya — most of them revitalized through private investment by ethnic Chechen businessmen.

"We need to create jobs so that people work and have food," said Arkady Volsky, head of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, who attended the conference. In televised comments, Volsky said his union has taken the newly formed Union of Chechen Industrialists and Entrepreneurs under its umbrella and pledged all possible assistance.

Usman Masayev, president of Moscow-based Diaret, an investment firm involved in the coal and metals industries, was elected chairman of the new union. Masayev has formed a pool of 15 ethnic Chechen businessmen who plan to invest $10 million in restoring several factories in Chechnya.

He said last week in an interview that the enterprises — a sugar refinery, bread factory and two distilleries — have been transferred "in trust" to the pool, which is now buying equipment for them.

At the congress, about 70 businessmen from across Chechnya and 30 from other Russian regions discussed ways to revive companies despite the ongoing war in the republic.

Click here to read our special report on the Conflict in Chechnya.

Mansur Magomadov, editor of the Obyedinennaya Chechenskaya Gazeta, a Moscow-based Chechen newspaper, said in a telephone interview that one of the items discussed was the idea of an insurance fund to guarantee investments in Chechnya.

Volsky said enterprises must be privatized to attract investment. "No one would put his money into what no one owns," he told Interfax.

Currently, most major enterprises in Chechnya are in a state of limbo as the pro-Moscow government reviews privatizations carried out under the separatist government. Investors like Masayev hope they will eventually receive full rights to the enterprises they restore.

Masayev said the creation of conditions for small and medium businesses was a necessary first step. "Our people are very industrious," he said. "If they are assisted, even a little, they would quickly start up their own businesses."