At Prague Watchdog, an essay (my tr.) by Ruslan Isayev entitled Dokka Umarov: A Hawk Flies to the Ichkerian Throne.
19 June 2006
Some media reports suggested today that a certain group in Iraq demands withdrawal of Russian troops from Chechnya, as a condition for freeing Russian diplomats taken as hostages. This results from a rough provocation of Russian special services. This provocation is intended to convince Western leaders, in view of the upcoming summit-meeting in St. Petersburg, that Russia and the West are “on the same side”.
The CHRI Foreign Ministry absolutely denies that Chechens are involved in the activities of the international terrorist network. We condemn terrorism in all its forms, including that of hostage-taking. The Foreign Ministry also demands, from those who keep Russian diplomats as hostages, to free these diplomats with no preliminary conditions.
This is not the first time when Russia tries to connect the Chechen nation’s struggle for independence with the activities of international terrorist network. For example, some Western leaders, deceived by Russian agents of influence, used to say that Chechens “bitterly fought” coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.
No matter what happens to the disappeared Russian diplomats now, Russian president will tell his colleagues that was “another attack” against Russia by Al-Qaeda.
Against the background of protests caused by assassination of CHRI President, today’s media reports look too “timely”. They are intended to soften the international condemnation of this political crime by the Kremlin.
Besides, many in the West began to ask serious questions about Russia’s true role in the “struggle against international terrorism” now. This made the Russian special services to resort to such a provocation on the eve of St. Petersburg summit-meeting.
The hostage-takers’ declared demands look extremely naïve. The Russian authorities’ disregard for lives of hostages has become notorious. In Dubrovka theatre in Moscow, and in the Beslan school, they cruelly killed hundreds of hostages.
Today, after six and a half years of the Second Russian-Chechen war, one must be very biased in favour of Putin to believe Russian propaganda about Chechens’ alleged involvement in international terrorism.
Once again, the CHRI government responsibly states that it is the Chechen nation who fights against leaders of international terrorism – i. e. the present Russian rulers.
Ahmed Zakayev, Minister of Foreign Affairs
A Focus news report notes that
Chechen separatists demanded the kidnapped Russian diplomats in Iraq to be released and demanded immediate withdrawal of Russian troops from Chechnya, Reuters reports citing the published statement in Internet by Ahmed Zakayev, so called foreign minister of the Chechen Republic Ichkerya. “The Foreign Ministry of the Chechen Republic Ichkerya is firmly denying any involvement with the international terrorist network and is summoning kidnappers of the Russian diplomats to release them immediately without any further conditions”, Ahmed Zakayev stated.
RFE/RL reports that following the death of Abdul-Khalim Sadulayev, Dokka Umarov has been named Ichkerian President. In mid-June 2005 RFE/RL's Andrei Babitsky interviewed Umarov, and the field commander explained his political positions. An excerpt:
RFE/RL: Let's talk about terrorism. Your commander Shamil Basaev planned and carried out several terrorist acts. To justify himself, he wrote in one letter that Allah gives one the right to take away from someone what he has taken from you.
Umarov: In any case, we do not have that right today. If we were to use those methods, then I think not one of us would be able to return as normal humans.
RFE/RL: There were terrorist acts in Beslan, in Moscow, and the responsibility for that blood lies both with the Russian authorities and with the entire Chechen resistance. Does that mean that such acts have been acknowledged, have been granted moral legitimacy by the Chechen resistance?
Umarov: No, in the eyes of the resistance such operations have no legitimacy. We ourselves were horrified by what they did in Beslan. Because we know the concrete facts of what our people hoped for, how it all began.
RFE/RL: Well, no matter what they hoped for, it is obvious that kidnapping children means putting their lives in great danger.
Umarov: That is a fact. Definitely, if one knows what to expect from the Kremlin. I, for example, knowing Putin, knowing his team — it is a fact that on the first day one could have expected that this would be an enormous threat for the children. And that's how it turned out, that's how the operation ended up.