Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 6 Issue: 42

The separatist Kavkazcenter website and reported on November 5 that a “concise glossary” had been handed out to “TV station administrators” the previous day at the Kremlin’s regular Friday “gray briefing,” during which “members of the presidential staff express their wishes (in the form of demands) as to what they want covered and how they want it to be covered.” According to Kavkazcenter, the Kremlin instructions ban identifying the Chechen rebels as “soldiers of God” or “Muslims” and states that it is forbidden to refer to the “war in Chechnya;” “anti-terrorist operation” is the only acceptable term. Akhmed Zakaev, the London-based Chechen rebel emissary, must be described as a “mouthpiece of the militants” rather than an “emissary of the Chechen extremists,” and the Chechen rebels must be referred to as “militants or terrorists” rather than “separatists.” In addition, the terms “Chechen” and “Islamic” should not be used in reference to rebel actions: instead, their actions should be described as “international terrorism.” Other banned words include “jamaat” (“terrorist organization” is suggested as a substitute), “shahid,” or martyr (“terrorist” or “suicide bomber” must be used instead), “mujahideen” and “Wahhabi.” The terms “emir,” “imam,” “sheikh” and “field commander” are to be replaced by the term “heads of bandit formations,” while “jihad” is to be replaced by the term “subversive-terrorist activity.”

Commenting on the glossary, noted that it is aimed, among other things, at stressing the “international character” of the Chechen rebels in order to “put Russia on the same level as the United States and other countries fighting international terrorism. It is not surprising that one of the favorite pastimes of the Russian soldiers in Chechnya is showing off the foreign citizenship papers they allegedly removed from the bodies of dead rebels. The logic is easy to follow: If civilians are dying in Iraq and no one is shouting about human rights, then the esteemed European liberals should have nothing to say about Chechnya.” In addition, according to, the new terminology is aimed at those Russians “who have forgotten that there never was a war in Chechnya and there is no war there now—only a counter-terrorist operation,” and who therefore “must be reminded of this in a subtle way. That is why there cannot be any fronts or brigades or any military operations by the terrorists!”

In the view of, the glossary was timed to coincide with the Chechen parliamentary elections on November 27. “The Kremlin’s demands to show ‘how peaceful life is in Chechnya’ have been made before, and each time they have preceded major publicity events—usually an election,” the website wrote. “As members of the presidential staff keep asserting, ‘everything is stable’ in Chechnya now, and the republic is expecting a ‘good election’…That is the precise reason, for example, that all of the TV channels were instructed a month ago to provide extensive coverage of the party leaders’ trips to Chechnya and to announce the start of the election campaign there. In the next few weeks, the channels probably will be showing reports on the lives of the average Chechen builder, farmer, and so forth.”