New prohibitions have been added to those already in force under Chechnya’s state of emergency. Republic commandant Aslambek Ismailov has ordered the closure of all private and commercial television and radio companies. Ismailov says this is to prevent “rumors and fabrications” being spread while the state of emergency is in effect.
There has also been a shakeup in the judiciary. A number of judges who took the side of the Islamic rebels in Gudermes have been fired. The Ulema Council, which consists of learned theologians, has called on President Maskhadov to replace the chairman of the Supreme Shariah Court as well. Thirty-year-old Ramzan Hadji Sataev, who organized the first Chechen Shariah court in Vedeno during the war, has been appointed the new chairman.
Local journalists working for Russian and international wire services and TV and radio companies have also come under criticism. Speaking on state TV yesterday, presidential press secretary Mairabek Vachagaev called them “traitors to the interests of the Chechen people.” (ORT, July 22)
Russian Interior Minister Sergei Stepashin has voiced strong support for the Chechen president’s actions. “Aslan Maskhadov is using force today to fight extremism and rogue armies. Kidnappings, slave-trading, raids and the events that took place in Gudermes during the inauguration of the head of the Dagestan’s State Council, all made it clear that tough action was essential,” Stepashin declared. (ORT, July 22)
WILL UDUGOV BE NEXT VICTIM OF CHECHEN “ANTI-WAHHABI” CAMPAIGN?