Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 6 Issue: 9

On February 23, Chechens and Ingush across the political spectrum marked the 61st anniversary of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin’s mass deportation of members of both groups to Kyrgyzstan. Chechnya’s pro-Moscow president, Alu Alkhanov, declared that the “repressions against the entire nation cannot be treated as anything other than a crime against humanity,” Itar-Tass reported. “The sad anniversary is a reminder that neither difficulties, nor political differences or social problems should be solved by means of violence or civil conflicts.”

In a statement posted on Kavkazcenter website, Chechen rebel leader Aslan Maskahdov declared: “In analyzing the tragic history of the Chechen people, we often ask ourselves the question: what was the reason for such barbaric treatment by Stalin and [NKVD chief Lavrenty] Beria of the Chechens in the winter of 1944? Unfortunately, in those terrible years many people, who had been deluded by the Red ideology, believed the Soviet propaganda that accused the Chechens of all the sins of the communist regime, fabricating absurd charges against them. And when in December 1994, after a 50-year gap, the long-suffering Chechen people again became the target of genocide by the Kremlin regime, this time painted in the bright colors of democracy, all people of good will clearly understood that the guilt of our forefathers, like the guilt of their descendants today, is simply that they want to be a free and independent people on their own territory – with their own culture and language, their own traditions and customs, their own religion and ideology.”