– Chechen Republic of Ichkeria Welcome’s Kosovo’s Declaration of Independence
The Chechenpress news agency on February 18 published a statement by Usman Ferzauli, foreign minister of the separatist Chechen Republic of Ichkeria (ChRI), welcoming “the declaration of state independence by the Kosovo territory” and adding that the ChRI Foreign Ministry “does not call into question the right of the people of Kosovo to distance themselves from the state that terrorized them.” For its part, the ChRI has for 14 years fought “against the most aggressive and militarized power in the world,” Ferzauli went on to say. “Our people, methodically and purposefully annihilated by all sorts of Russian paramilitary formations, are faced with extinction.” In an apparent reference to Chechen rebel leader Dokka Umarov’s declaration of a Caucasian Emirate, Ferzauli added: “We unequivocally distance ourselves from any extremist views, as well as from any radical associations or organizations.”
– Every Dead Rebel an “Emir”
Prague Watchdog reported on February 20 that authorities in Chechnya are continuing the practice of refusing to return the bodies of rebels killed in battle, with the families of four guerrillas killed recently in a shootout with security forces in Chechnya’s mountainous Shatoi district—Ruslan Seriev, Viskhan Yedilbaev, Zelimkhan Shuipov and Lyoma Khamzalatov—still unable to make arrangements for their burial according to Muslim custom. Noting that authorities claim Seriev was the “emir” of the Itum-Kale, Shatoi and Sharoi districts, an anonymous local human rights activist told the website: “You see, if you liquidate a few guerrillas and then report it, it’s just a routine special operation. But if you announce that you’ve destroyed an ‘emir’, a ‘sector commander’, a ‘group commander’ or a ‘front commander’, a ‘close assistant of Dokku Umarov’, a ‘North Caucasus Al-Qaeda representative’, or, if the worst comes to worst, an ‘Arab mercenary’, it changes things entirely. In such a case the representatives of our valiant ‘authorities’ can count on obtaining new titles, awards or promotions. That’s why there are these constant reports of ‘emirs’ being killed in Chechnya, Ingushetia, Dagestan and elsewhere. The number of these slain ‘emirs’ is probably by now several times higher than the number of ordinary guerrillas.”
– KBR President Visits Turkish City of Kayseri
The president of the Kabardino-Balkaria Republic (KBR), Arsen Kanokov, visited the Turkish city of Kayseri, which was one of the major cities where the Circassians were settled after their mass exile during the Russian-Circassian War, Circassianworld.com reported on February 20. According to the website, Kanokov met with, among others, Kayseri’s mayor, Mehmet Ozhaseki, and the governor of Kayseri province, Mevlüt Bilici. The KBR’s capital, Nalchik and Kayseri became sister cities not long ago.