Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 7 Issue: 8

On February 23, the 62nd anniversary of Josef Stalin’s mass deportation of the Chechen and Ingush peoples, the Chechenpress news agency published a message from Chechen separatist leader Abdul-Khalim Sadulaev. “The forced deportation of Chechens and Ingush to Kazakhstan and Central Asia, carried out with the cruelty typical of the Russian butchers, cost hundreds of thousands of our people, who perished in mass shootings, [or] from hunger, cold or disease. There was not one Vainakh family who during the time of the deportation did not lose relatives. Our villages were seized by settlers and renamed, our property was stolen, our cemeteries were desecrated. As Aslan Maskhadov (a martyr, Allah willing!) correctly said, this pain and these loses will never become ‘history’ for us, because they are part of our tragic present…And when we are asked why we, deprived of aid and support from the rest of mankind and pinning our hopes and intentions only on the mercy of the Almighty Allah, conduct such an unequal war with the Russian imperial plunderer, we answer: we are fighting, among other things, so that what the Russian butchers meted out to our people on February 23, 1944 is never repeated!”

Sadulaev’s message ended: “I want to thank everyone who helps our warriors by deed, word and prayers, by appeals to the Almighty Allah. As Muslims, we are convinced that the Almighty Allah is a benefactor, with his mercy and protection, to those who fight for the truth [and] for justice on His upright path. And this is the firm basis of our belief in the victory of the Chechen people, in the liberation of our soil from the Russian invasion. Allahu Akbar!”

Meanwhile, the Agentstvo Natsionalnykh Novostei (ANN) reported on February 22 that the pro-Moscow Chechen government and presidential administration held a session that day marking the deportation anniversary. According to the news agency, the session was attended by President Alu Alkhanov; Dukvakha Abdurakhmaov, the chairman of the People’s Assembly, Chechnya’s Parliament; and the heads of government ministries, agencies and district administrations. Chechnya’s mufti, Sultan-Khazhi Mirsaev, began the session by reading a prayer of remembrance. Among those who spoke was the chairman of the Council of Veterans of the Chechen Republic, Magomed Inderbiev, a veteran of the Great Patriotic War, as Russians call World War II. “We have gathered today in this hall to observe the day of remembrance for victims of political repression, to remember and pay tribute to the memory of all who died as a result of the bloody Stalinist terror against the Chechen people,” Inderbiev said. “We have a shared grief, shared mourning, shared pain and sorrow for our relatives who have gone before us.”

According to ANN, the Chechen Republic’s presidential fund is marking the 62nd anniversary of the Stalinist deportation by giving each Great Patriotic War veteran and victim of political repression 10,000 rubles ($354). The Akhmad Kadyrov Regional Social Foundation is also giving Great Patriotic War Veterans 10,000 rubles each, the news agency reported.

Noting that the anniversary of Stalin’s deportation of the Chechen and Ingush people falls on the same day as “Defender of the Fatherland Day,” the holiday celebrating Russia’s military servicemen, Ekho Moskvy on February 22 reported that the Chechen Committee of Veterans of the Great Patriotic War had appealed to the Russian government to move Defender of the Fatherland Day to another date. Yet, Ruslan Yamadaev, a State Duma deputy representing Chechnya, told the radio station he was against moving the holiday.