Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 138

Chechnya’s President Aslan Maskhadov has prolonged for a further ten days the state of emergency he imposed last month in the breakaway republic. On July 19, he announced an extension of the curfew and a general mobilization of 5,000 reservists who took part in the 1994-96 Chechen war. He also ordered the deportation from the republic of three Jordanian citizens and one Russian citizen accused of stirring up instability and propagating “Wahhabism,” a radical Islamic sect which, Maskhadov declared, is alien to Chechnya’s religious traditions. Maskhadov said the measures were necessary to enable the authorities to crack down on maverick armed gangs who are dealing in drugs, gun-running and stolen petroleum and who are responsible for kidnappings and hostage-taking.

Maskhadov’s move comes after last week’s armed clashes between rebel fighters and government security forces in Gudermes in eastern Chechnya, the republic’s second-largest town, where at least seven people were killed. At the time, Maskhadov blamed the violence on “Wahhabis,” though the power of the autonomous field commanders who dominate much of the republic predates the influx of Islamic radicals from outside the republic–a relatively recent phenomenon. When he introduced a state of emergency in the republic last month, Maskhadov vowed to neutralize the gangs once and for all. Following the clashes, presidential spokesman Mairbek Vachagaev announced that the authorities were outlawing Wahhabi bands, political movements, newspapers and some television programs on Chechen territory. (Itar-Tass, July 16)