Kadyrov Performs the Hajj Pilgrimage

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 9 Issue: 47

Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Muzdalifah, near Mecca, in Saudi Arabia on December 9. Ziyad Sabsabi, the Russian Federation Council member representing Chechnya, also took part in the meeting and told Interfax that Kadyrov and Abbas “unanimously noted that terrorism is an evil which is absolutely unacceptable as a tool of domestic and foreign politics.” Sabasai quoted Kadyrov and Abbas as saying that “there can be no compromise in the fight against terrorism,” and that “every effort of the international community should be aimed at its full eradication.” According to Sabsabi, Abbas said he has “been closely watching the situation in Chechnya for a long time and knows about the positive shifts which are happening” there and that he “fully and unconditionally backs measures taken by the Chechen authorities and approves of the policy which Kadyrov has been and is pursuing to restore Chechnya.”
Kadyrov, for his part, told Abbas that the positive changes in Chechnya have happened thanks to the support of the Russian federal authorities, and added "the Chechen people has been and are a resolute opponent of any manifestation of international terrorism and are advocates of the spiritual, moral and civil values of the Russian peoples.”

Kadyrov traveled to Saudi Arabia to perform the Hajj pilgrimage and his press service quoted him as saying on December 6 that he planned to pray for the peace and wellbeing of Chechnya and Russia as a whole on the following day at Mount Arafat, southeast of Mecca. Newsru.com quoted Kadyrov as saying that after fulfilling his religious duties he planned to meet with Saudi King Abdullah and thank him for the hospitality and attention to the Chechen Republic the kingdom had shown by playing host to pilgrims from Chechnya. According to Newsru.com, more than 3,000 Chechens are performing the Hajj this year.

Back at home in Chechnya, meanwhile, the situation was something less than peaceful. Kavkazky Uzel on December 7 quoted the Chechen military commandant’s office as saying that a senior police sergeant had been wounded in the leg when unidentified attackers fired on vehicles carrying police and servicemen near the village of Shalazhi in Chechnya’s Urus-Martan district.

Meanwhile, three members of a family were reportedly murdered in the mountain village of Agishty in Chechnya’s Vedeno district on November 4. Citing law-enforcement sources, Kavkazky Uzel reported that 72-year-old Khadzhi Sadulayev, his 58-year-old wife Taus and their 32-year-old son Salman were shot to death in their home by a group of unidentified attackers who then set the house on fire and fled. A criminal investigation into the murders has been launched.

Kavkazky Uzel noted that the New York Times reported in early 2008 that Chechen authorities had launched a campaign of punishing alleged family members of rebels that included burning down their houses. In addition, Kavkazky Uzel reported that local residents in Vedeno had announced a boycott of family members of “illegal armed formations.” The website reported, however, that while the local authorities claimed the boycott was initiated by the local inhabitants themselves at a meeting, many Vedeno district residents they did not know when or where such a meeting took place (North Caucasus Weekly, October 12).

Yet the Chechen rebels have apparently claimed responsibility for the murder of Khadzhi Sadulayev, his wife and son. The Kavkaz-Center website reported on December 4 that “mujahideen” had entered Agishty the previous day and set up checkpoints, after which they killed a former village administration head, whom they identified as Khozha Saraliev, along with his son and wife, and had torched their home and car. Kavkaz-Center alleged that the family had been responsible for giving away the position of three rebel fighters who were killed in Agishty in January 2006.