Mufti Admits Some Chechen Youths Joining Rebels

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 8 Issue: 21

The Mufti of the Chechen Republic, Sultan Mirzaev, has commented on the fact that some young people in the republic have been heading to the mountains to join the rebels. Kavkazky Uzel, on May 23, quoted Mirzaev as stating that during recent months, around twenty young people from the various settlements had “gone into the mountains.” He added: “There will be no more amnesty games with these youths. They will meet their death in the mountains or will sit in prison for the rest of their lives.”

Mirzaev said in his statement that relatives of these young people said they had disappeared without a trace. According Kavkazky Uzel, the mufti said that anyone who “went into mountains to act against the president of the Chechen Republic” – that is, Ramzan Kadyrov – “is not a Muslim.”

Kavkazky Uzel noted that the rebel forces in Chechnya typically become more active with the arrival of spring, particularly in the mountains, and that the flow of young people into their ranks has coincided with the spring upsurge. “In principle, such things take place each spring,” an unnamed staffer with a local NGO told the website. “Some young people for one reason or another go into the mountains to join the militants. Naturally, they don’t tell their relatives or friends. Therefore, many parents not infrequently believe that their children have disappeared. Members of the power structures typically start a full-court press against members of the families of those who have gone into the woods. They burst into houses, carry out searches, not infrequently beat the close relatives of newly-fledged militants, demanding that they immediately find their children and bring them back.”

The anonymous NGO staffer concluded: “Instances of young people going off to the militants, unfortunately, still occur. But they are not massive in nature. At the same time, many of those who run off into the mountains don’t think about the possible consequences of their actions. Therefore, it is necessary to carry out constant preventive work among youth, to explain to them the malignancy of such actions, to carry out propaganda on behalf of a normal life-style.”

The Caucasus Times on May 23 cited three-week old rumors circulating in Chechnya that several dozen officers from the republic’s law-enforcement agencies joined the rebels because of disagreements they had with the actions of recently appointed heads of various Chechen Interior Ministry departments. According to the website, indirect evidence of this can be found in the recent mass “voluntary” resignations and dismissals of police officers, particularly from within the Interior Ministry’s private security department.

Meanwhile, Interfax reported on May 21 that the acting commander of the Chechen Interior Ministry’s OMON special police forces, Alikhan Tsakaev, was presented to the Interior Ministry staff. In taking over as OMON chief, Tsakaev replaces Akhmed (Artur) Akhmadov – who, according to the news agency, “has been given another assignment.” The Chechen Interior Ministry’s press secretary, Magomed Deniev, told Interfax that Tsakaev previously worked as the head of a special police unit from within the Russian Interior Ministry’s branch for the Southern Federal District.

Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov noted during the Chechen Interior Ministry meeting introducing Tsakaev that the new acting OMON chief had received the Order of Akhmad Kadyrov for his efforts in fighting illegal armed groups. According to Interfax, Kadyrov also ordered the Interior Ministry staff to step up its fight against crime, prevent law breaking and take tough measures to identify, detain, and, if resistance is offered, eliminate those who by force of arms continue to commit grave crimes against ordinary Chechens, as well as against officers of the law-enforcement and security agencies. Kadyrov said that the situation in Chechnya today can be described as “exceptionally stable,” the news agency reported.