Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 7 Issue: 10

Following the condemnation by Movladi Udugov, the Chechen separatist official from the movement’s radical wing, of Hamas’ decision to accept President Vladimir Putin’s invitation to visit Moscow, Akhmed Zakaev, who represents the separatist movement’s moderate wing, also weighed in on the issue. Udugov, who heads the separatist National Information Service of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, said on March 2 that he regretted Hamas’ decision to send a delegation to Moscow and shake hands “with the killers of 250,000 Chechen Muslims, among them 42,000 Chechen children.” Udugov also criticized Hamas for agreeing to participate in the Palestinian elections “in the conditions of occupation and permanent terror by Tel Aviv,” which, he said, was a step toward recognizing Israel (see Chechnya Weekly, March 6).

Asked by on March 3 to comment on Udugov’s statement, Zakaev responded that there was no reason to view the visit to Moscow by Hamas leaders as a betrayal. “Betrayal is treachery by friends or allies, but the Hamas movement has in no way showed itself to be an ally or friend of the Chechens. This is true of all of the ruling regimes of the Arab countries (and not only the Arab countries). The fact is that ALL governments of the Arab states, including the Palestinian official structures, have repeatedly stated publicly that the genocide carried out by the Kremlin in Chechnya is ‘the internal affair of Russia.’ The late Arafat said this more than once, and such fellows as Saddam Hussein and Muammar Qaddafi even had the gall to urge the Chechens to put down their weapons and submit to the Russians. Let’s agree that people who justify the murder of the Chechen people can in no way be considered friends and allies of the Chechens and, correspondingly, cannot betray the Chechens. The visit by representatives of the Hamas leadership does not surprise or anger us more than the visits and friendly conversations with Putin of the Iranian, Qatari and Saudi leaders. We are much more surprised and angered by the behavior of certain Chechens who…serve the Russian occupiers—the executioners of their people.”

Zakaev said that the Chechen rebel leadership has no plans to have any contacts with the leadership of Hamas. “I cannot imagine what benefit the Chechen leaders could derive from contacts with a movement that is trying with all its might to establish contacts with the deadly enemies of the Chechens,” he said.

A delegation headed by Hamas’ political leader, Khaled Meshaal, arrived in Moscow on March 3 for a three-day visit.