Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 8 Issue: 48

– Russia Protests Zakaev’s Appearance on Polish TV

Akhmed Zakaev, prime minister of the separatist Chechen Republic of Ichkeria (ChRI), appeared on the popular Polish public television talk show “Warto Rozmawiac” (Worth Talking), which was broadcast on December 10 by the TVP2 channel to mark World Human Rights Day. “I want to thank the Polish people for your help,” Agence France-Presse quoted Zakaev as saying during the program. “The fate of Poles and Chechens has much in common. You have proved through your determination and sacrifice that freedom can be achieved. You are an example to us.” RIA Novosti on December 13 quoted Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin as saying that giving airtime to Zakaev, “who is accused of terrorism, cannot but arouse indignation.” While the Russian authorities have accused Zakaev of terrorism, the British authorities granted him political asylum.

– Dokka Umarov, aka Abu-Usman, Issues Decrees

Dokka Umarov, the erstwhile Chechen rebel leader who now identifies himself as Amir of the Caucasus Emirate Abu-Usman, issued several decrees that were posted on the Kavkaz-Center website on December 10. One of the decrees established the administrative-territorial unit Vilayat “as a constituent of the Caucasus Emirate,” while another divided the Caucasus Emirate into the Vilayat Dagestan, the Vilayat Nohchiycho (Ichkeria), the Vilayat Galgaycho (Ingushetia), the Vilayat Iriston (Ossetia), the Vilayat Nogai steppe and the joint Vilayat Kabarda, Balkar and Karachai. Other decrees abolished the political institutions of “the former” Chechen Republic of Ichkeria (ChRI) —including Umarov’s former post of ChRI president—for being “inconsistent” with Sharia. Umarov/Abu-Usman’s first two decrees, which Kavkaz-Center posted on December 9, declared the creation of the Caucasus Emirate as an Islamic state that will be governed by Sharia.

– State Department Official Reportedly Warns Separatism is a Double-Edged Sword

The BBC’s Russian-language website on December 11 reported that U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Matthew Bryza told the Azerbaijani television channel ANS in an interview that if Russia recognizes the independence of the breakaway Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in response to Western recognition of Kosovo’s independence, enemies of Moscow might respond by recognizing separatist regions inside Russia itself. “We are not even talking about Chechnya, Kabardino-Balkaria, Dagestan and North Ossetia,” Bryza was quoted as saying. “Our Russian friends say that if Kosovo is recognized as an independent state, they may recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia. That may cause a very serious crisis in Transcaucasia.” According to the BBC, Bryza emphasized that recognizing Kosovo’s independence should not be seen as a precedent by other regions seeking independence. “A universal precedent does not exist,” he was quoted as saying. “Our Russian friends say that Kosovo’s independence will create a precedent. But we say that such a principle does not operate in the world. All conflicts are different.”