Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 5 Issue: 41

Ramzan Kadyrov, Chechnya’s first deputy prime minister and son of the republic’s slain pro-Moscow president, once again raised eyebrows with several comments over the last week. On November 8, he told journalists that a rebel fighter, who had claimed responsibility for the May 9 bombing that killed Akhmad Kadyrov, had himself been killed along with another 17 fighters loyal to Shamil Basaev by security forces in the Vedeno district settlement of Shamil-Yurt. “Among the destroyed fighters is the ‘emir’ Suleiman (Khairulla), who earlier publicly claimed responsibility for carrying out the terrorist act at Grozny’s Dinamo Stadium on 9 May 2004,” Kadyrov said, adding that the “emir” was a native of Dagestan. A short time later, however, the press-service of Chechen President Alu Alkhanov denied that the organizer of Akhmad Kadyrov’s assassination had been killed, telling RIA Novosti that he had managed to escape the battle with security forces. Still, Alkhanov’s press service claimed that 22 rebel fighters were killed in the battle, including four “emirs.”

Reuters reported on November 3 that Ramzan Kadyrov had offered to help Georgia “restore order” in the Pankisi Gorge, which Russia has claimed is a staging area for Chechen rebel fighters. “We are fed up with a threat coming from there,” he told Daimokh, a Chechen-language newspaper. “Maybe many sensitive Georgian politicians will not like it, but we would be able to restore order there…My people are effective and capable. We are capable of conducting any operation in Russia if there is the command from Moscow. The center of terrorism in the North Caucasus is in Chechnya and nearby regions, so I shall work on the spot.” Newsru.com on November 5 quoted Kadyrov as having said the previous day: “We in Chechnya are tired of silently watching how terrorists are trained and armed in Pankisi and sent into Chechnya. We must put an end to this, if the top leadership of the country gives the order.”

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili responded on November 6: “What comment can be made about the statements of a bandit: he does not represent the Chechen people, and I do not welcome his presence in Georgia,” Saakashvili said, as reported by Newsru.com. “We are prepared to cooperate with Russia in the fight against terrorism.”