Although its relations with NGOs in general are increasingly frosty, the Russian government seems to have taken an especial dislike to the Russian Chechen Friendship Society, which a Russian court recently ordered to be dissolved. The main reason for the hostility -which exceeds the norm in such cases – appears to be the fact that the Society once published some public statements by Aslan Maskhadov (murdered by Russian forces in March 2005) and Akhmed Zakayev (now living in London, England). This, it appears, is enough to brand the RCFS as an “extremist organization”.
Now Russian representatives at the OSCE are objecting to an invitation issued to the RCFS to attend the Supplementary Human Dimension Meeting on Freedom of Assembly, Association and Expression that is currently taking place in Vienna, Austria.
Oksana Chelysheva writes (via JP):
I am in Vienna now at the OSCE meeting. The day was really horrible as the Russian official delegation kept labelling us terrorists. One “political technologist from the Kremlin’s public chamber even insulted me in public…
Their behaviour is so absurdly stupid that all the delegations here are expressing their indignation. Except the Spanish who want “to make the balance” and not “offend their Russian friends”. I am coping with it although it really hurts.
As an honorary member of the RCFS, I protest against the behaviour of the Russian authorities, which is surely counter-productive, and will only serve to increase antipathy between Russia and the West.
In Chechnya Weekly , political analyst Mayrbek Vachagayev has some interesting comments on the recent appointment of Supyan Abdullayev as Ichkerian vice-president:
After the First Chechen War, Supyan Abdullaev held the rank of colonel and following the appointment of Islam Khalimov to the post of minister of internal affairs in 1997, became his deputy. Both of the men left the ministry following the gun battle in Gudermes between the Salafites and the supporters of Aslan Maskhadov on July 15, 1998. In the aftermath, Abdullaev grew distant from politics and was well known as a “second stringer.”
During the Second Chechen War, Supyan entered the ranks of the resistance in the very beginning, and even though he was a dzhamaat member, remained loyal to Aslan Maskhadov. Known for his calm and deliberate manner, Abdullaev never became part of any internal disputes and reached the level of brigadier general by the end of the conflict. He also started out as a leader of a dzhamaat and eventually became the commander of a front and a member of the Maskhadov government (www.newsru.com, August 5, 2004).
The choice was made in favor of Abdullaev because he is a member of the old guard who began his career with Dzhokhar Dudaev. Even though he was not one of the primary figures during that time, his involvement with the resistance traces back to the early 1990’s; today, there are very few remaining who have experienced both of the Chechen wars. And it is because of this that Dokka Umarov chose this man out of his group of comrades that have been in close contact with him for almost twenty years.
This is not, however, the only reason for Abdullaev’s new position. The leader of the Chechen resistance movement understands that Supyan has significant influence over the Salafites, who are one of the best-organized groups within the Dagestani dzhamaat. This is an important concern for Umarov, since the “Shariat” dzhamaat of Dagestan has recently followed in the footsteps of Karachai’s dzhamaat by creating its own website. This is a notable departure from the times of Aslan Maskhadov and Abdul-Khalim Sadulaev, when all of the dzhamaats were united in using the services of the “Kavkaz-Center” internet portal controlled by Movladi Udugov.
On April 8 Moscow will be the scene of an “Imperial March”, organized by the Eurasian Youth Union.
It will be interesting to see if police take action of the kind that was taken against the recent “March of the Dissenters” (Marsh nesoglasnykh) in St Petersburg, and even more so against a similarly-titled march that took place in Nizhny Novgorod on March 24, and was actually broken up by police.