Umarov Faces Charges of Incitement Via the Internet

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 9 Issue: 13

Kommersant reported on April 2 that the Investigative Committee’s investigative directorate for Chechnya has launched a criminal case against Chechen rebel leader Dokka Umarov for inciting inter-ethnic hatred and calling for the overthrow of the Russian government on the Internet. If he is captured, prosecuted and found guilty of these charges, Umarov could face a fine of up to 500,000 rubles (more than $20,200) and a ban on holding management positions. According to the newspaper, Umarov was earlier on Russia’s wanted list but the charges against him were suspended.

Kommersant quoted Chechnya’s prosecutor, Valery Kuznetsov, as saying that the initiative to file criminal charges against Dokka Umarov this time was taken by ORB-2, the controversial operational-investigative unit of the Southern Federal District’s main Interior Ministry department that operates in Chechnya. According to Kuznetsov, the texts of Umarov’s appeals were first studied by specialists at the Pyatigorsk Linguistic University. The statements that were determined to violate the law were connected to Umarov’s declaration in December 2007 of a Caucasus Emirate, which were posted on several rebel websites. In them, Umarov said that the situation in the North Caucasus “can be corrected only with weapons in hand” and called for all federal laws to be rejected and “the infidels’ to be destroyed. He also called for a Caucasus Emirate encompassing and replacing Dagestan, Chechnya, Ingushetia, North Ossetia, Kabardino-Balkaria and part of Stavropol Krai, and said that the leaders of these republics should be destroyed.

The head of ORB-2, Isa Surgueva, said he was surprised to find that there were not any criminal cases against Umarov, and that Chechen officials, including the republic’s president, Ramzan Kadyrov, were also surprised. Meanwhile, the Chechen prosecutor’s office has asked the Investigative Committee to review all of its criminal cases connected to Chechnya to see whether Umarov was involved in other crimes, including terrorism-related crimes. “We think that this bandit should answer for much more serious crimes than extremist statements,” a source in the Chechen prosecutor’s office told the newspaper. According to Kommersant, the Investigative Committee found that back in 2005 charges were brought against Umarov for “organizing illegal armed formations” and that the old charges could be merged with new ones and Umarov could be put on the wanted list again. Sources in the Chechen prosecutor’s office said they plan to find out why the 2005 charges were suspended.

Kommersant noted that the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria (ChRI) is investigating Umarov for attempting to “liquidate the independent Chechen state” by declaring the creation of a Caucasus Emirate. According to the newspaper, under ChRI laws, treason is punishable by death.