Zakaev Claims Planned “Emirate” is Part of an Anti-Chechen Kremlin Plot

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 8 Issue: 41

In a fresh sign of splits within the Chechen rebel leadership (Chechnya Weekly, October 18), Akhmed Zakaev, foreign minister of the separatist Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, has accused the Kremlin of plotting to destroy the statehood of Chechens and other people of the North Caucasus by instigating the proclamation of a North Caucasus “emirate” ostensibly in the name of Dokka Umarov, the Chechen rebel leader and ChRI president.

Zakaev said in a statement posted on the separatist Chechenpress website on October 22 that the announcement of the creation of an emirate would be used as a pretext to move more Russian troops into the North Caucasus, with a consequent further crackdown on the peoples of the North Caucasus and Russia’s withdrawal from the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE). Zakaev said in the statement that the Kremlin’s “criminal regime” is “trying to persuade the president of the ChRI, through its agents of influence and gambling on religious rhetoric, to declare himself the emir of a North Caucasian Emirate and on behalf of the Muslims of the Caucasus to declare a war on the whole world.” According to the alleged Kremlin plot, such a step by Umarov would “spell the end of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria,” ridding the Russian leadership of “any criminal responsibility for war crimes against the Chechen people” while removing the “inconvenient subject” of Chechnya from Russia’s debates with the West over such issues as Russia’s “annexation” of Abkhazia, South Ossetia and the Trans-Dniester region, Zakaev wrote.

Zakaev wrote that even a simple verbal proclamation of a North Caucasian emirate would help Moscow “to mobilize even more forces to carry out the genocide of the peoples of the North Caucasus, who are even more vigorously calling for their ethnic and religious rights,” and would also play a “provocative” role similar to that played by the Congress of the Peoples of Chechnya and Dagestan, which, according to Zakaev, “contributed towards the second invasion by Russian troops of Chechnya.” The people who backed that congress “have been brought in to prepare for this ‘Emirate’ operation from the Chechen side,” Zakaev claimed, adding that the proclamation of an “Emirate” would help the Kremlin consolidate control over Russia’s regions by “creating an appropriate political rationale” and be used in December’s State Duma and next year’s presidential elections. Internationally, it would allow Moscow to justify repression in the North Caucasus as part of the global war against al-Qaeda, Zakaev wrote, adding that an increase of violence in the North Caucasus and consequent introduction of more troops there “are an intrinsic part of Russia’s plan to finally reject the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe.”

Zakaev claimed that Moscow has allocated $500 million for preparing and carrying out the “Emirate” operation and that Russian special services agents have met in a third country with “certain representatives of the Chechen side” who have begun “lobbying” for the “proclamation” of a “North Caucasian Emirate.” Zakaev concluded: “I would like this statement to be seen as a basis for an immediate investigation into the anti-state activities of those persons who are helping to carry out the Kremlin’s latest criminal plans to discredit Chechen statehood and the lawful aspirations of the enslaved peoples of the North Caucasus.”