The Chechen separatist Daymohk website on April 3 published an address by Abdul-Khalim Sadulaev. The Chechen rebel president claimed his forces had destroyed “dozens of pieces of enemy equipment” on “all fronts of the war” this winter. “The most odious figures in the camp of the national traitors, who were decorated with medals and crosses by their bosses, have also been liquidated,” Sadulaev said. “God has helped us to defeat them. The greatest successes have been achieved in Dagestan where the traitors’ leaders have been wiped out. Successful combat operations are also being waged in Karachaevo-Cherkessia, although not so actively as in the main areas of the mujahideen’s attacks in Ingushetia, Chechnya, Kabardino-Balkaria and Adygeya.”
Sadulaev claimed that rebel forces had also “performed well” in the Krasnodar and Stavropol territories, carrying out “successful operations there with far-reaching consequences”—including one in which, he claimed, 10 members of an OMON special police unit were killed and rebel fighters managed to break out of an encirclement after losing only two men. Sadulaev was apparently referring to a shootout in Tukui-Mekteb, a village in Stavropol Krai’s Neftekumsky district, last February. The Associated Press reported on February 10 that two days of fighting in Tukui-Mekteb had killed 12 suspected rebels and seven policemen (see Chechnya Weekly, February 16).
Sadulaev also claimed that rebels in North Ossetia this winter had destroyed all the armored equipment of one federal battalion. He said, however, that he had “no definite information” that rebel forces were behind the incident in the Chechen village of Kurchaloi—which, he claimed, “completely wiped out” a “battalion of Yamadaev’s munafiqs [hypocrites].” Sadulaev here was referring to the February 7 explosion at a two-story military barracks of the Vostok Battalion of the federal Defense Ministry’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU), which is commanded by Sulim Yamadaev. The Emergency Situations Ministry reported on February 8 that 13 people were killed and more than 20 injured in the explosion at the barracks, and some officials said they believed the blast was caused by a gas leak while others said a bomb could not be ruled out. Following the incident, both the Kavkazcenter and Chechenpress separatist websites posted a statement from “the headquarters of the Military Committee of the GKO [State Defense Committee] Madzhilisul Shura” claiming that the blast was the result of an operation carried out by a “special group of mujahideen” (see Chechnya Weekly, February 9).
“We are aware that [pro-Kremlin Chechen Prime Minister Ramzan] Kadyrov’s criminals are at loggerheads with Yamadaev’s men, but until we are in possession of the facts we are unable to say that it was our mujahideen who carried out this operation,” Sadulaev said of the Kurchaloi explosion. “When we do get final information, I shall give a further report in my next address about the results of this operation. All we know for certain is that one company of a battalion of Yamadaev’s terrorists was completely destroyed. But the only person who could believe that there had been a domestic gas explosion is some amateur dilettante who has no idea that a war is going on or that Putin is in the Kremlin. Nobody else believes such nonsense. The mujahideen know how a gas cylinder explodes, how a shell explodes and how a building collapses when it has been mined on all sides with explosives. The building was mined in such a way that no one could possibly have survived.”
Sadulaev suggested that the Kurchaloi blast could have been the result of a bomb placed by pro-Kadyrov forces. “We know that Ramzan Kadyrov has declared the village of Kurchaloi a zone of his influence, that he has trained many munafiqs there and that there is deadly enmity between them and Yamadaev’s men,” he said. According to Sadulaev, Ramzan Kadyrov and his father Akhmad were behind the March 2003 killing of Sulim Yamadaev’s brother, Dzhabrail, who was deputy military commandant of Chechnya. According to press reports at the time, Dzhabrail was killed by an explosion in a house in the village of Dyshne-Vedeno in which he was staying along with three bodyguards. The blast was blamed on the rebels, who in fact subsequently took credit for it. Sadulaev, however, noted: “Earlier we said that Dzhabrail Yamadaev had been destroyed by the mujahideen, believing that our fighters had done this. After a mujahideen investigation, it transpired that this had been done by the Kadyrovs—Akhmad and Ramzan—who paid the FSB $100,000 to carry out this operation. Sulim Yamadaev, who later wiped out four of Dzhabrail Yamadaev’s personal bodyguards who were involved in his murder, also knows this. He is afraid of taking vengeance on Ramzan Kadyrov, because he fears his Russian bosses. Otherwise, he would have done something.”
Referring to the overall situation in Chechnya and the North Caucasus, Sadulaev said “the fact that Putin has spoken about the end of the war in the North Caucasus and establishing peace” shows that “the Russians have lost all hope of victory”—that “they have had enough and want to end the war by any means.” The “territory of the war is expanding,” he added, “and the Russians are taking desperate steps to prevent this, refuting their own statements about the war being over.” Sadulaev also suggested that the law signed by President Vladimir Putin in early March setting up a National Anti-Terrorism Committee headed by the Federal Security Service director to coordinate the government’s response to terrorism showed that the federal authorities are panicking that they are increasingly “losing control of the situation.” Sadulaev compared the new committee to the State Defense Committee that Stalin set up during World War II. “A military committee is not set up in a country where a war has ended,” Sadulaev said. “This is a mechanism of power to be created when the need arises to switch all the power and functions of rule by the state and the whole economy over to conditions of war. The Russian leadership’s statements about ending the war and creating a State Defense Committee are completely contradictory…The policy of the United States in the world and chance that crops up periodically to boost the economy with increased prices for oil are the only things helping them to bear the burden of the war and postpone recognizing their utter defeat.”
Sadualev also suggested that Chechen Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov’s moves to establish Islam and apply Sharia law in Chechnya were signs of desperation. “Given the complete failure of ideological work…the Russians have begun using the mouths of the munafiqs to talk about establishing Sharia law and Islam in Chechnya,” he said. “They are now instructing Kadyrov, who has been expanding his network of shops selling drugs and spirits, to declare a war on narcotics. He is suddenly starting to show concern for the morals of the Chechens and for Sharia law. This absurd policy is being conducted as a result of the defeat of his bosses. It was also carried out in the former times, when the Russians suffered defeat and the national traitors who followed them lost all hope. They used to say: ‘And we also allow you to follow Islam and to observe Muslim customs.’ Such ‘cunning’ speaks to the grave position of enemies.”
Sadulaev’s statement reiterated his earlier comments about “traitors” who had “switched to the side of the occupation forces” and were now expressing regret (see Chechnya Weekly, March 30). “There are people among them who are helping us, as we saw from an example in Vedeno, where Kadyrov’s men killed someone called Mola and his brother because they were helping the mujahideen,” Sadulaev said. “We have received reports that they are dead, and if this is so, then may God have mercy on them. This shows that the conscience of these people, whom the Russians and the munafiqs deceived, has begun to be restored. Thanks to God, this is mercy from God! However, it is also true that whatever stories you bring us, we do not need you alongside us. You are people who once turned your backs on the truth, and there is every chance you will do so again. Despite this, we will be glad if just one of those who have realized the bloody deeds of the non-believers and the small bunch of hypocrites returns to the true path. I say this not because we need comrades alongside us. We will not accept you even if you all come back to us; you are people who doubted the truth and victory, who broke down and were under the command of the non-believers. At the same time, if your hands are not stained with blood, we are prepared to find ways to spare your lives. And if you will help the mujahideen and the ordinary people in some way we shall not reject your good deeds and this will be to your advantage.”
Finally, Sadulaev said that Ramzan Kadyrov’s elevation to the post of Chechen prime minister was the result of the “complete collapse” of Russian policy. The only thing Kadyrov can do “is torture prisoners and treat them brutally,” Sadulaev said. “Putin likes that and it suits him. But that is all he can offer Kadyrov. This shows how weak the enemy is. After all, if the enemy were sharp, he would have found an intelligent and capable henchman who could talk to the people. This shows there is no future for the Kremlin’s policy. And such a bankrupt Kremlin policy will speed up our victory in the Caucasus, although it will not be easy for those people who are being tormented.”