In a statement posted on the separatist Kavkaz-Center website on February 23, the 63rd anniversary of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin’s deportation of the Chechen and Ingush people in 1944, Chechen rebel leader Dokku Umarov, who is president of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria (ChRI) and “emir” of the ChRI’s GKO [State Defense Committee]-Majlis Shura, noted that on February 23, 1994, then-Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev had issued a special decree designating the anniversary the Day of Rebirth of the Chechen Nation. “In that way, we made it clear that the Chechen nation, having renewed its statehood, will never kneel or submit to the enemy that for hundreds of years has tried to break our will and our right to our way of life, religion and freedom,” Umarov said.
Umarov’s statement continued: “The Chechen nation, as has already happened more than once in its history, is experiencing hard times. The occupiers are using the most refined and crafty methods of war, relying on a small group of turncoats and apostates. Genocide has taken on total forms. The physical destruction of the people by means of the most modern kinds of weaponry, including weapons of mass destruction, is accompanied by psychological destruction. Dirty customs and laws, moral decay and abomination are being spread. Violence and aggression are aimed not only against our state, but also against the consciousness of our people, whom they want to turn into a rootless, cowed mass that knows neither honor nor dignity. Precisely because of this, it is our religion, Islam, more than anything else, which is subject to attack. The enemy knows that Islam is our protection, support, ally and the source from which the nation draws its strength. The aggressor clearly understands that Islam is the basis of our way of life, our culture, our freedom, all of which can only be changed by first perverting and destroying religion. Therefore, the enemy is conducting an insidious psychological war against Muslims, using apostates, traitors, cowards and turncoats. But, thanks to the mercy of Allah, such people are a minority among us. The Jihad continues. The enemy’s lies and propaganda does not change the situation. We are not getting tired, and our patience is not running out. The number of mujahideen is growing.”
Umarov called on “all the Muslims of the Caucasus” and “the fighting mujahideen, the best people among us,” to be patient, “because victory comes to those who are patient.” He added: “Truly, Allah the Almighty and the Sublime is with us in our Jihad. Do not lose heart and quit fighting. And when it gets particularly hard, remember that there are those who do not have the opportunity to fight and are only awaiting their fate, and it is a great humiliation. What is happening to us today is happening at the pleasure of the Almighty Allah, because it was prescribed to us from on high. We hope for the best. And, if others do not rush to help, then remember that Allah alone can grant victory. And, if others turn away, then remember that Allah does not turn away from his sincerely believing slaves. If you fight, then fight on the path of Allah, and then the Most High will strengthen the ranks of those fighting and give you victory. Fear nothing other than Allah, and then others will fear you. Know that victory is granted not to those who surpass the opponent in numbers or modern military materiel, but to those who possess the fear of God and are ashamed before the Most High and His Angels to commit sinful deeds. So fight on the path to Allah, be God-fearing, do good deeds, be righteous, fulfill the laws of Allah and refrain from what He has forbidden, and the Most High will grant victory, Inshallah!”
The separatist Daymohk website posted a statement from Akhmed Zakaev, the London-based ChRI foreign minister, to “the North Caucasian diaspora” marking the deportation anniversary. The anniversary, he said, “serves as yet another reminder that the vicious circle of violence against the North Caucasians will come to an end only with their liberation from colonial dependence.” The “heroic resistance of the North Caucasus,” which is based mainly on the “Chechen armed forces” headed by Dokku Umarov, “needs your moral, political and material support,” Zakaev told the Chechens living abroad. “Moreover, any support for our anti-colonial struggle completely fits with the principles and norms of international law,” the statement added. It concluded: “Let there be no doubt! The process of the decolonization of our Motherland has taken on an irreversible character. No one can stop it, but you can hasten it. Allahu Akbar!”
Meanwhile, RIA Novosti reported on February 23 that commemorations marking the anniversary of the deportation took place across Chechnya. Interfax quoted Chechnya’s mufti, Sultan Mirzaev, as saying that during the 13 years of exile in Kazakhstan and elsewhere in Central Asia, the entire Chechen population was practically halved despite their traditionally high birth rates. As a result, he said, almost all families in the republic lost relatives during this period. Newsru.com quoted the speaker of the Chechen People’s Assembly, Dukvakha Abdurakhmanov, as saying that around a half million people died during the 13 years in exile and that the republic’s leadership has decided to build a large memorial to commemorate the victims of Stalinist repression that will be completed before the end of this year. According to the website, Chechens marked the deportation anniversary by honoring those who died in exile in accordance with Muslim rites – by reading prayers, sacrificing livestock and distributing meat to poor families and orphans.
Ingush President Murat Zyazikov also addressed the nation on the anniversary of the deportation. According to Ingushetiya.ru, he thanked the Russians, Kazakhs and Kyrgyz who had helped the Ingush survive in exile. “For the 13 long years that we were far away from our motherland, our people did not lose their spiritual and moral values, and they preserved their language and culture,” he said. “Having chosen a democratic path of development, Russia has condemned the criminal policy of genocide and repression against the country’s peoples and citizens. Today, the Ingush people live and work within the family of peoples of Great Russia for the country’s further prosperity.”