Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 8 Issue: 2

Chechnya’s pro-Moscow government announced that it will erect a statue to Nikita Khrushchev in the center of Grozny this summer and will also name a school and a square in the center of the Chechen capital after the former Soviet leader, reported January 9. “We recognize Khrushchev’s prominent role in the restoration of Chechnya’s autonomy,” said Dukvakha Abdurakhmanov, speaker of the People’s Assembly, the lower house of Chechnya’s parliament. “We recognize the kind of forces he had to confront to make this decision, given that the Stalinists, because of whom the [Chechen] people wound up in Siberia, were still powerful.”

According to the website, Abdurakhmanov’s comments came during a joint session of the Chechen parliament and government marking the 50th anniversary of the restoration of the Checheno-Ingush ASSR [Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic]. The parliamentary speaker said that a decision had also been taken for the construction in Grozny of a memorial complex to remember the victims of Stalin’s repression, as well as a monument to Muslim Gairbekov, who in the mid-1950s headed the organizational committee for the reestablishment of the Checheno-Ingush autonomous republic. It was emphasized during the joint session that the Chechens are the only group to whom the federal law on rehabilitating repressed peoples has not been fully applied, reported.

At the same time, Chechen Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov denied rumors that the session would raise the issue of merging Chechnya and Ingushetia. “We have gathered here to mark the 50th anniversary of the restoration of the autonomy of Checheno-Ingushetia,” Kadyrov said. “However, there are people who are spreading rumors that we have gathered in order to approve a decision on the unification of the Chechen and Ingush republics. All of this absolutely does not correspond to reality; it did not occur to anyone to raise this issue. I don’t know how these people can play on such feelings; is nothing sacred to them if, on a day when people who have lived through the tragedy of resettlement…are shedding tears as they remember their relatives who have remained in exile…, they say that we are here to resolve issues of a completely different nature. We are busy with the reconstruction of the republic; we are trying to revive our people, cities and villages. And no one has raised any other issues, nor has plans to raise them here.”

Meanwhile, local Chechen officials and members of the republic’s intelligentsia participating in a roundtable discussion marking the 50th anniversary of the restoration of the Checheno-Ingush ASSR appealed to the Russian government to switch Defender of the Fatherland Day from February 23, which also marks the anniversary of Stalin’s deportation of the Chechen and Ingush people in 1944, to a different day. Kavkazky Uzel reported on January 10 that the roundtable’s participants also called on the federal authorities to designate January 9 as Restoration of Chechen Statehood Day. However, State Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov said on January 11 that it would be inexpedient to move the date of Defender of the Fatherland Day. “February 23 is a date which is traditionally celebrated in Russia,” RIA Novosti quoted him as saying. “It is the date of the creation of the Red Army. I don’t think that changing the date is advisable. There are 365 days in a year, and each one of them can be noteworthy for something negative. I consider February 23 an important date, and it would be inexpedient to change it.”