Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 7 Issue: 8

Acting Chechen Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov used the occasion of a February 21 meeting in Grozny with visiting U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour to make accusations against Boris Berezovsky, the former Kremlin insider and current Kremlin opponent, and Akhmed Zakaev, the separatist culture minister. Both men currently reside in London.

Kadyrov, who together with his brothers and father, the late Akhmad Kadyrov, fought on the separatist side against federal forces during the first Chechen war, claimed that Berezovsky financed the rebels via kidnappings-for-ransom. “I fought in 1995 against federal forces; I know who [Chechen rebel warlord Shamil] Basaev is [and] I lived with [the late separatist leader Aslan] Maskhadov,” Kadyrov said during the meeting with Arbour, Interfax reported. “The kidnapping of people was started by them, including [separatist Press and Information Minister Movladi] Udugov and Berezovsky.

Berezovsky repeatedly met with leaders of the militants and suggested a financing scheme to them. Berezovsky told the ringleaders of the militants the following: ‘I cannot give you money directly, and therefore propose the kidnapping of citizens and servicemen of the Russian Federation in Chechnya, and under the guise of their ransom I will pay millions of dollars.'” Kadyrov claimed that “through this scheme many millions of dollars were received by the militants, which they used to buy weapons [and] ammunition.”

Kadyrov also accused certain countries of sheltering “leaders of the illegal armed formations, including Zakaev, [separatist Foreign Minister Ilyas] Akhmadov, Udugov and others.” Zakaev resides in the United Kingdom, Akhmadov resides in the United States and Udugov is thought to live in Turkey. Kadyrov alleged that “the financing of the terrorist act carried out on May 9 [2004] at Dinamo Stadium in Grozny, which killed Akhmad Kadyrov and other, was carried out by Akhmed Zakaev…According to our information, it was through Akhmed Zakaev that money to the tune of $1 million went toward organizing the terrorist act against President Akhmad Kadyrov. We cannot detain and bring Zakaev in for questioning and arraignment in Russia because he is located in London and all requests to the appropriate structures have gone unanswered.”

Kadyrov also accused “the leaders of the militants” of unleashing war in the North Caucasus. “I know that former system; I am well acquainted with it and can responsibly state that Aslan Maskhadov and his entourage did nothing to avert war,” he said. In addition, “the first and second military campaigns [in Chechnya] were games by politicians of other countries against Russia,” Kadyrov alleged. “I participated in the last conversation my father [Akhmad Kadyrov] had with Aslan Maskhadov before the start of the second war. Father insistently asked him not to play into the hands of enemies of the Chechen people [and] to denounce the ringleaders of the illegal armed formations, but he [Maskhadov] didn’t do it.” Kadyrov also criticized international human rights organizations. “Human rights organizations are needed, but it is impossible for us to understand where they were when foreign citizens, citizens of Russia [and] local inhabitants were being kidnapped in Chechnya every day, and why their voices weren’t heard then.”

Kadyrov also insisted that the situation in Chechnya today is vastly different than it was in previous years. “There is law in the republic, and we will not allow anyone to violate it,” he said.