Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov appears to have abruptly ended his courtship of Akhmed Zakaev, the exiled prime minister of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria (ChRI), calling the London-based separatist leader a “liar” and “hypocrite.”
Speaking on October 27 during a meeting of the regional branch of the United Russia party in Grozny, the Chechen capital, Kadyrov called Zakaev a chameleon, a big-mouth, a liar and a hypocrite who does not care about his homeland. Kadyrov said he had talked to Zakaev by telephone and wanted to help him return to Chechnya. “I did that for his sake and the sake of those people who, having been tricked, wound up abroad and remain there now, having listened to his [Zakaev’s] artistic speeches.” Kadyrov claimed that during their telephone conversations, Zakaev spoke admiringly about what is going on in Chechnya today and said Kadyrov is “the only person who really managed to save the people.” However, Kadyrov claimed, Zakaev said the opposite to journalists and denigrated everything that has been done and is being done in the republic.
Kadyrov also said that Zakaev has no plans to return to Chechnya. He claimed Zakaev initially accepted his invitation to return home and had asked Kadyrov, via Chechen parliamentarian and former ChRI official Magomed Khambiev, to send someone to London with whom he could return to Chechnya. But, according to Kadyrov, Zakaev then changed his mind. “He has not made up his mind to return home, fearing foreign special services,” Kadyrov said. “They forgot about him a long time ago.” Zakaev had evinced interest in returning to Chechnya simply as part of a self-promoting “PR campaign,” Kadyrov charged, adding that no one is now asking him to return home and that Zakaev “chatters filth to please his sponsors and, while calling himself a patriot, is not ashamed of feeding off foreign scraps.” Kadyrov added that no one in Chechnya is interested in Zakaev. “He was never a warrior but, being a good actor, he played his role well, and nothing more,” Kadyrov said (www.newsru.com, October 28).
Zakaev has responded to Kadyrov’s outburst, telling Radio Free Europe that Kadyrov is a Kremlin herald and the fact that he is making totally contradictory statements is a sign of splits in Moscow. “Today he acts as if my position was a surprise for him – this is not, let us say, completely honest,” Zakaev said. “He is stretching the truth in this regard. And he is doing this because he is dependent. Ramzan voiced what is going on within Russia’s top leadership. I know for certain that there is a side which understands that attempts to resolve the Chechen issue –or the issue of the North Caucasus– by force is unrealistic and unproductive. But there is another group that profits by using these methods [using force-EDM]: they gain from them, receive political and material dividends. Naturally, they came out against any political contacts with me as a representative of the government of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria. I think that the second group clearly has won” (www.newsru.com, October 29).
Zakaev also reiterated his claims that Russia is planning to accuse Georgia of connections with al-Qaeda. In an interview published earlier this week in Kommersant-Vlast magazine, Zakaev claimed that the Russian foreign ministry will soon present the United Nations Security Council with what it will say is “proof” of the Georgian special services’ connections with Chechen rebel leader Dokka Umarov and representatives of the Caucasus Emirate, the Islamist entity declared by Umarov in 2007. Zakaev noted the claim made by Federal Security Service (FSB) Director Aleksandr Bortnikov earlier this month that Russia’s special services had seized “audio” evidence from militants in the North Caucasus showing that they, together with “al-Qaeda” emissaries, had established contacts with representatives of Georgia’s special forces who “participated in the training and transfer of terrorists to the territory of Chechnya” (EDM, October 25). Zakaev said that the Russian foreign ministry plans to present the Security Council with what it will say is material demonstrating the Caucasus Emirate’s membership in al-Qaeda and the Georgian special services’ involvement with the Caucasus Emirate.
Zakaev claimed that Umarov’s proclamation of the Caucasus Emirate was planned by the FSB. “In line with the plans of the authors of the project [the Caucasus Emirate-EDM], after its proclamation, the Chechen people’s fight for their freedom and independence was shifted into the ranks of the war against the infidels,” Zakaev said, continuing “From the ranks of an aggressor who committed war crimes in Chechnya, Russia turned into a victim of the international jihad. And all those sympathizing with and supporting the lawful demands of the Chechen people were equated with accomplices of Islamic extremists.” Zakaev claimed the plan was aimed at “the self-destruction of the people of the North Caucasus.”
Zakaev also alleged that Isa Umarov, who is either the older brother or stepbrother of Movladi Udugov, the Chechen rebel propagandist who became a representative of the movement’s radical Islamist wing, may be “an agent of the Russian special services.” According to Zakaev, Umarov organized the rebel incursion into Dagestan from Chechnya in August 1999, which was one of the proximate causes for the second Chechen war. Zakaev claimed Isa Umarov lives in Istanbul and freely travels to Chechnya, where he meets personally with Dokka Umarov.
Zakaev also said that in his telephone conversations with Ramzan Kadyrov, they did not discuss politics (Kommersant-Vlast, October 26).
Zakaev told Radio Free Europe that his information about Russian plans to hand over accusations concerning the alleged links between Georgia’s special services and al-Qaeda to the U.N. Security Council is “90 percent reliable.” He said the Russian authorities are trying to smear the Georgian leadership. “Today there is only one politician, statesman, in the world who is openly resisting the Putin regime, and that is Mikheil Saakashvili,” Zakaev said, adding “The most important issue for Russia is for Saakashvili to stop being the leader of Georgia” (www.newsru.com, October 29).