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JF: Chechnya Weekly, November 30, 2006 - Vol. VII, Issue 46

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  • David McDuff
    THE JAMESTOWN FOUNDATION CHECHNYA WEEKLY New and Analysis on the Crisis in Chechnya November 30, 2006—Volume VII, Issue 46 IN THIS ISSUE: * Chechen
    Message 1 of 2 , Dec 1, 2006
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      THE JAMESTOWN FOUNDATION

      CHECHNYA WEEKLY

      New and Analysis on the Crisis in Chechnya

      November 30, 2006—Volume VII, Issue 46

      IN THIS ISSUE:
      * Chechen Separatists Eulogize Litvinenko
      * Committee Created to Protect Trepashkin
      * Kavkaz-Center Writer Appeals Jail Sentence
      * Umarov Reportedly Wounded
      * Corruption in North Caucasus Fuels Instability
      * Briefs
      * Siloviki Blame Kadyrov for Ongoing Military Failures in Chechnya
      By Andrei Smirnov
      * Death of a Jordanian Mujahid: Abu Hafs al-Urdani
      By Dr. Andrew McGregor

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      CHECHEN SEPARATISTS EULOGIZE LITVINENKO

      The Chechen separatist movement has denounced the killing of
      Aleksandr Litvinenko, the former Federal Security Service (FSB)
      lieutenant colonel who accused his erstwhile employers of blowing up
      apartment buildings in Moscow and other Russian cities in 1999 in
      order to create a pretext for the second Russian military
      intervention in Chechnya. Litvinenko died in London on November 23
      after being poisoned with what turned out to be a highly radioactive
      substance – polonium 210 (Chechnya Weekly, November 16 and 22;
      Eurasia Daily Monitor, November 27 and 29).

      In a statement published by the separatist Chechenpress news agency
      on November 25, the administration of the Chechen Republic of
      Ichkeria (ChRI) President Dokku Umarov declared that it was "grieved
      and indignant" to hear about the death of Litvinenko, whom it praised
      as a writer, human rights activist and "persistent advocate of truth
      and justice." Kremlin "criminals" had "stabbed him in the back and
      treacherously poisoned him," the ChRI administration wrote, adding
      that Litvinenko was the latest in a line of victims of "Kremlin
      killers" that included State Duma deputies Sergei Yushenkov (shot to
      death in Moscow in April 2003) and Yuri Shchekochikhin (died in July
      2003 of a mysterious illness believed to have been induced by
      poisoning), former ChRI president Zelimkhan Yandarbiev (killed when
      his car was blown up in Doha, Qatar, in February 2004) and the
      journalist Anna Politkovskaya (shot to death in Moscow on October 7).

      "Now Aleksandr Litvinenko – an honest and courageous man who
      uncompromisingly exposed all the crimes and provocations of the
      Kremlin fascist regime – has been added to this list," the ChRI
      presidential administration stated. "We regard as especially
      important the convincing proof and evidence of the Russian special
      services' direct participation in the bombings of the residential
      buildings in Russian cities in the fall of 1999 collected by
      Aleksandr Litvinenko in his book, `The FSB Blows Up Russia.' Thanks
      to that book and other publications by Aleksandr Litvinenko, Putin
      and his accomplices will never wash their hands of the blood of the
      hundreds of Russian civilians that was spilled in order to find a
      reason to unleash a new war and new genocide in Chechnya. Aleksandr
      Litvinenko presented in his book an accurate account of the crimes of
      Putin's killers, who carried out the cold-blooded extermination of
      hundreds of Russian citizens so that they would have a pretext for
      the destruction of hundreds of thousands of citizens of the Chechen
      Republic of Ichkeria."

      The ChRI presidential administration claimed that Litvinenko
      converted to Islam shortly before he was poisoned and said it was
      praying to God to confer the status of a shahid, or martyr, on him.
      It also extended condolences to Litvinenko's family, relatives and
      friends.

      In a statement carried by Chechenpress on November 22, one day before
      Litvinenko died, the London-based ChRI foreign minister, Akhmed
      Zakaev, said the attempt to kill Litvinenko showed that "the open
      cruelty of the Russian government has no limits" and that "the
      tactics of terror used in Chechnya by the Kremlin have been fully
      transferred onto London's streets." He called for an independent
      investigation of Litvinenko's poisoning.

      BBC Monitoring on November 28 cited a statement by the family of
      Aslan Maskhadov, the late Chechen president and separatist leader,
      calling on the rebel leadership to award Litvinenko the ChRI's "top
      honor" for his services to the Chechen people. Chechens will always
      remember Litvinenko as "a hero, a fighter for freedom and justice,"
      the statement read. "Our brother Aleksandr – a true son and patriot
      of his motherland, as well as of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria –
      is gone," Maskhadov's family said in the statement.

      Chechen rebel envoy Akhyad Idigov, the chairman of the committee for
      foreign relations of the ChRI parliament, who currently lives in
      France, said Litvinenko was "undoubtedly" a victim of Russia's
      security agencies. "A lot of politicians around the globe agree with
      this [statement] and many people in the Russian Federation are
      guessing that the incumbent Russian government is behind this bloody
      affair," he said. According to BBC Monitoring, a Chechenpress report
      written by Zelimkhan Khadzhiev drew parallels between the deaths of
      Litvinenko, Lecha Islamov, cousin of Chechen rebel commander Ruslan
      Gelaev, who died in a Russian prison in 2004, and Yuri
      Shchekochikhin. "All three cases of poisoning – of Islamov,
      Shchekochikhin and Litvinenko – are united not only by the clinical
      picture, which is identical even in terms of the details, but also by
      the fact that the traces of the poisoners clearly point to one
      address: Moscow, Lubyanka [FSB headquarters]," Khadzhiev wrote.

      In an interview published by Chechenpress on November 28, Mayrbek
      Taramov, head of the Chechen Human Rights Center, said Litvinenko was
      killed because he was "the most active political opponent of Putin
      abroad." Taramov also said that while the "Soviet-Bolshevik
      authorities controlled their punitive bodies," the "punishers" of
      today have become "uncontrolled." He added: "This means that a gang
      of murders, bandits and terrorists…has occupied the highest rung of
      power in Russia. The latest state terrorists have moved in on the
      whole of submissive Russia, which occupies one-sixth of the earth
      with all of its endless riches. This is a monstrous force that the
      whole civilized world should fear."

      COMMITTEE CREATED TO PROTECT TREPASHKIN

      A group of human rights activists have set up a "Public Committee to
      Protect Mikhail Trepashkin," Kavkazky Uzel reported on November 28.
      Trepashkin, the dissident ex-FSB lawyer who tried to investigate his
      former employer's links to the 1999 apartment building bombings,
      received a four-year prison sentence in May 2004 for revealing state
      secrets and for illegally carrying a pistol in his car. He was
      released on parole in September 2005 after serving two years of his
      sentence, but rearrested two weeks later after the state appealed the
      parole decision.

      Trepashkin was an adviser to former Duma deputy Sergei Kovalev's
      commission that investigated the 1999 apartment building bombings in
      Moscow and Volgodonsk and the planting of a bomb that did not explode
      in an apartment bloc in Ryazan. The former FSB colonel claims the
      charges against him were fabricated in retaliation for his
      allegations of FSB involvement in those bombings. The FSB claimed he
      was recruited by Britain's MI5 to collect compromising materials on
      the explosions with the aim of discrediting the FSB. In December
      2005, Amnesty International warned that Trepashkin's health was
      deteriorating in the prison settlement near Nizhny Tagil in
      Sverdlovsk Oblast where he was being held. In March, the London-based
      human rights group declared him a political prisoner.

      "The murder of Anna Politkovskaya and Aleksandr Litvinenko shook the
      world," the founders of the Public Committee to Protect Mikhail
      Trepashkin said in a statement. "We saw how easily…people who exposed
      the dark secrets of the war in Chechnya and the crimes of the
      siloviki were chosen to be victims of terror." Trepashkin took
      up "the problem of the special services' involvement in the
      explosions of the Moscow apartment buildings in September 1999" and
      as a lawyer, represented victims of those blasts, the statement's
      signatories noted. Today, Trepashkin is "seriously ill," they wrote,
      yet the administration of the prison where he is incarcerated "is
      impeding his right to be hospitalized in the [Nizhny Tagil] city
      hospital in every way possible. The refusal to hospitalize [him] is
      supported the Sverdlovsk Oblast Prosecutor's Office. At the same
      time, unofficially, reference is made to…Moscow as being the source
      of the refusal." (On May 29, a judge ordered that Trepashkin be
      hospitalized after he suffered a severe asthma attack. However, he
      was reportedly forcefully taken out of the hospital and back to
      prison later that day by prison staff. On May 31, Amnesty
      International issued a statement warning that without proper medical
      treatment, his life could be in danger.)

      The committee's statement continued: "We have serious grounds to
      believe that Trepashkin could become the next victim in the series of
      violent acts. Therefore, we are setting up a public committee to
      protect the political prisoner Mikhail Ivanovich Trepashkin. The
      goals of the committee are…ensuring Trepashkin's rights to
      hospitalization and effective medical treatment and the repeal of an
      unfair verdict and [his] exculpation." Among the committee's founders
      who signed the statement were Lev Ponomarev, head of the For Human
      Rights movement; Yury Samodurov, director of the Andrei Sakharov
      Museum and Public Center; and Aleksei Yablokov, the academician and
      prominent environmentalist.

      KAVKAZ-CENTER WRITER APPEALS JAIL SENTENCE

      Interfax reported on November 27 that Boris Stomakhin, the editor-in-
      chief of the publication Radikalnaya Politika (Radical Politics) who
      has also been a regular contributor to the Chechen separatist Kavkaz-
      Center website, appealed the five-year prison sentenced handed down
      against him for fueling religious hatred. RIA Novosti reported on
      November 20 that Moscow's Butyrsky Court had found Stomakhin guilty
      of publicly fueling religious enmity and extremism through the mass
      media and sentenced him to five years in prison. Stomakhin's lawyer
      Aleksei Golubev, who filed the appeal with the Moscow City Court,
      told Interfax on November 24 that his client wanted the Butyrsky
      Court's verdict invalidated and the case reconsidered. Prosecutors
      had argued that Stomakhin's stories "endorsed criminals and
      terrorists, whose actions are aimed at destroying the Russian
      nation." Stomakhin, who has been in custody since March 2006, pleaded
      not guilty.

      Several human rights activists denounced the verdict against
      Stomakhin during a press conference held in Moscow on November 22,
      Kavkazky Uzel reported on November 23. "The precedent with Stomakhin
      makes it possible to easily accuse any person who is inconvenient to
      the authorities," Valentin Gefter, director of the Human Rights
      Institute, told reporters. "That will soon turn into a ban
      on `incorrect' information." Valery Novodvorskaya, leader of the
      Democratic Union, predicted that the sentence handed down against
      Stomakhin was only the start of a wider campaign, "because together
      with him, the entire human rights sector and the entire democratic
      movement will be put on trial for disagreeing with the majority, for
      not accepting the state policy of the RF [Russian Federation], for
      sympathizing with the Chechen people, for anti-war demonstrations and
      pickets."

      UMAROV REPORTEDLY WOUNDED

      Kommersant reported on November 24 that an operation to destroy
      Chechen rebel leader Dokku Umarov that was carried out over the span
      of three days near the village of Yandy-Kotar in Chechnya's Achkoi-
      Martan district had ended in failure. Citing "unofficial
      information," the newspaper reported that Umarov was wounded but
      managed to escape.

      Kommersant quoted Col. Nikolai Varavin, who heads the press center of
      the Regional Operation Headquarters of the Anti-Terrorist Operation
      in Chechnya, as saying on November 23 that a special operation aimed
      at rebels near Yandy-Kotar was in its third day and was being
      conducted by Defense Ministry and FSB forces without the
      participation of Chechen police. Asked whether Umarov was among the
      blockaded rebels, Varavin answered: "Maybe, but I cannot yet
      officially confirm that." The newspaper quoted Ruslan Badalov, head
      of the Chechen National Salvation Committee, a human rights group, as
      saying that a member of his committee who lives in Yandy-Kotar
      reported that Umarov was wounded but managed to break out of the
      encirclement and escape into neighboring Ingushetia. Residents of
      Yandy-Kotar said that helicopters were deployed against the
      rebels. "We haven't seen anything like this for a long time –
      helicopters have been patrolling over the village for days, all of
      the roads and trails have been closed and even cellular phone service
      has been cut off," the source said.

      According to Kommersant, the operation against the rebel unit
      believed to include Dokku Umarov was preceded by the surrender of 35
      rebels, including several field commanders who were members of
      Umarov's inner circle. The newspaper quoted sources in Chechnya's
      Interior Ministry as saying that the surrendering militants had given
      up Umarov's location and that if Umarov were caught or killed, the
      rebels who had surrendered would be amnestied and even materially
      rewarded.

      CORRUPTION IN NORTH CAUCASUS FUELS INSTABILITY

      A World Bank study released on November 29 concluded that a rise in
      the number of young people coupled with a lack of opportunity in the
      North Caucasus could impede long-term economic development and
      threaten stability in the region. The Moscow Times on November 30
      quoted one of the authors of the 88-page study, entitled "Youth in
      the Northern Caucasus: From Risk to Opportunity," as warning
      authorities to take action in the region now or face "a whole lost
      generation." "There is a risk that untapped entrepreneurial resources
      of the local youth can eventually find their way into activities that
      are detrimental to the security in the region," La Cava told the
      English-language newspaper.

      The report's authors, who interviewed hundreds of youth in the
      region, found that the bribes that many high schools and higher-
      education institutes in the North Caucasus expect from students make
      education prohibitively expensive. According to the report, the
      amount of the bribe required to pass a high school or university exam
      in Dagestan runs from $70 to $175, and can reach as high as $1,000
      for a prestigious law school. The Moscow Times quoted Abduragim
      Sagidov, a 13-year-old Dagestani student, as saying that he wants to
      study the oil and gas business at a university and then move to
      Siberia to work for an energy company, but that he doubts he will be
      able to afford it. "I don't know anyone around me who hasn't bribed
      his way into or through a university," Sagidov said.

      Meanwhile, Kavkazky Uzel on November 22 quoted the Karachaevo-
      Cherkessia's Interior Ministry as saying that 23 criminal cases have
      been brought against police officers in the republic this year.
      According to the ministry, the most "scandalous" cases concerned
      police officers involved in "illegal armed formations" and weapons
      trafficking. One suspected police officer had received training in a
      rebel camp in Chechnya.

      According Kavkazky Uzel, the authorities in Karachaevo-Cherkessia
      uncovered not only cases of policemen taking bribes and abusing
      power, but also cases of police officers who were involved in thefts
      and home burglaries.

      BRIEFS

      - RUSSIAN AUTHORITIES REFUSE TO REGISTER DUTCH NGO

      Russia's Federal Registration Service has refused to register the
      Stichting Russian Justice Initiative, a Dutch NGO that has
      represented Russians in the European Court of Human Rights in
      Strasbourg, France, in cases of abuse in Chechnya. The Moscow Times
      reported on November 27 that the registration service had notified
      the Dutch organization on November 15 that it had not registered the
      organization's representative office in Moscow because of improper
      paperwork and that the NGO could resubmit its application after
      making the appropriate corrections. In July, the Strasbourg court
      ordered Russia to pay 35,000 euros ($45,836) to Fatima Bazorkina,
      whose son disappeared in Chechnya in February 2000 and who was
      represented by the Stichting Russian Justice Initiative. The court
      ruled that Russia had violated her son's "right to life" and failed
      to conduct "an effective investigation" into his disappearance. The
      ruling was the first of its kind, and human rights activists said it
      could provide impetus for thousands of other Russians to file
      complaints over disappearances (Chechnya Weekly, July 27).

      - PACE DELEGATION VISITS CHECHNYA

      A Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) delegation
      has visited Chechnya and said it will back the idea of holding a
      roundtable discussion on the situation in Chechnya under certain
      conditions, RIA Novosti reported on November 26. The delegation's
      head, Andreas Gross, the Swiss MP and chairman of the PACE sub-
      commission on the Chechen roundtable, previously the PACE rapporteur
      on Chechnya, said during a November 26 meeting in Gudermes with
      Chechen Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov that the idea of holding a
      roundtable in Grozny made sense, but that it should include both
      those who believe Chechnya is part of Russia and those based in
      Moscow, Berlin and Grozny who are critical of Chechnya's pro-Moscow
      administration. The news agency quoted another member of the PACE
      delegation, Tadeusz Iwinski, as saying: "We visited Chechnya last
      year and it is possible to say today that positive changes have taken
      place and progress can be noted" in the security situation in the
      republic. However, Iwinski also said that Kadyrov had admitted that
      kidnapping is still a problem for Chechnya but that the problem is
      being tackled.

      - MEMORIAL ISSUES REPORT ON TORTURE

      Echoing a recent report on torture in Chechnya released by the Human
      Rights Watch (Chechnya Weekly, November 16), the Memorial human
      rights group held a press conference in Moscow on November 22 to
      present the findings of a report on torture in Chechnya that it had
      jointly prepared with the Paris-based International Federation of
      Human Rights. Like Human Rights Watch, the Memorial-International
      Federation of Human Rights researchers found that victims of torture
      are afraid to speak about it. The joint Memorial-International
      Federation of Human Rights report found that 143 people have been
      kidnapped this year, 54 of whom disappeared without a trace. The
      bodies of eight others were found with signs of torture. According to
      Memorial, however, the official figures on disappearances are
      contradictory and incomplete. Memorial board chairman Oleg Orlov said
      that the number of people who disappear without a trace is half what
      it once was. "That, of course, can be interpreted as a victory of
      democracy and lawfulness in the republic," said Orlov. "But that is
      far from true. The fact is that nowadays such crimes…are simply
      retreating into the shadows."

      Siloviki Blame Kadyrov for Ongoing Military Failures in Chechnya
      By Andrei Smirnov

      The recent murder of Movladi Baisarov, a pro-Russian Chechen field
      commander, in a shootout in Moscow has trigged a discussion about the
      uneasy relations between Ramzan Kadyrov, the most influential leader
      in the pro-Russian Chechen camp, and Russian security officials.
      Movladi Baisarov was the commander of one of the numerous death
      squads operating in Chechnya that carry out special missions given to
      them by the Federal Security Service (FSB) and military intelligence
      (GRU). Baisarov was killed because of a serious conflict between him
      and Ramzan Kadyrov. It is no secret that as soon as the FSB withdrew
      its men who had been guarding Baisarov, he was killed by Kadyrov's
      men in the Russian capital. The fact that the FSB resisted Kadyrov's
      attempts to eliminate Baisarov for quite some time suggests that a
      conflict between Kadyrov and the federal security officials may
      actually exist.

      In an article published by Gazeta.ru on November 24, Yulia Latynina,
      a Russian journalist who regards Ramzan Kadyrov as the best solution
      for Russia to solve the old and irritating "Chechen problem," said
      that low-ranking FSB officers – "majors and colonels" – could be
      behind this anti-Kadyrov plot, but that President Vladimir Putin did
      not take them seriously. The situation, however, could become more
      complicated if the FSB as a whole, and not just a number of its
      officers, opposed Ramzan Kadyrov.

      On October 5, Ramzan Kadyrov reached the age of 30 – the minimum age,
      according to Chechnya's constitution, to become Chechen president.
      Many observers in Russia believed at the time that Putin would soon
      appoint him to the Chechen presidency. This, however, did not happen.
      Moreover, it was evident even before Kadyrov's birthday that there
      were forces that were blocking his presidential ambitious.

      On September 27, just eight days before his 30th birthday, Ramzan
      Kadyrov stunned the public with a statement that there had been two
      attempts on his life and that both of them had been organized by
      special services (Interfax, September 27). Kadyrov did not explain
      which special services he meant, but it is unlikely that any of them
      were of foreign origin. He may have been referring to the Russian
      special services or those of the Chechen rebels.

      The first open confrontation between Ramzan Kadyrov and the FSB
      occurred late last August, when Ramzan Kadyrov organized a
      spectacular show, during which dozens of former insurgents
      surrendered their weapons and were personally pardoned by Kadyrov.
      This scene was broadcast by all of Russia's TV channels and covered
      widely by the Russian press. Two days later, on August 31, Sergei
      Bogomolov, the acting chairman of the Chechen branch of the FSB,
      declared that "the facts of the militants' surrender are being
      juggled by the Chechen law-enforcement agencies" (Kavkazky Uzel,
      August 31). This statement was a direct blow to Kadyrov and his
      reputation.

      In early November, some FSB-controlled Russian media sources
      initiated a campaign against Ramzan Kadyrov. "Bandit formations in
      Chechnya are still threatening factors and local security officials
      do not fully realize it…saying that there are few militants in the
      republic," wrote German Pronin in an article published on November 15
      by Utro.ru. Pronin was clearly referring to Kadyrov, who has repeated
      from time to time that there are almost no rebels left in the
      republic. It should be noted that Pronin specifically criticized the
      work of two Chechen senior police officers who are very close to
      Kadyrov. Pronin stated that Chechens who had been fighting on the
      Russian side for many years, like Musa Gazimagomedov and Buvadi
      Dakhiev, had been killed, while former rebel field commanders like
      Artur Akhmadov and Adam Demilkhanov occupied high positions in law-
      enforcement agencies or in the regional government. Pronin added that
      the Chechen police were full of traitors who provided the insurgency
      with intelligence while Russian servicemen were being killed every
      day. "In August 2006 alone, during the period of the so-
      called `peaceful construction and resurrection of the republic,'
      Russian security officials lost 30 men in Chechnya," Pronin
      wrote. "It is a pity that the Kremlin does not subscribe to the
      Chechen newspapers where complaints against the central government
      are sometimes the same as they were during the Ichkeria period" [when
      the separatists were in power in Chechnya].

      The day after Utro.ru ran Pronin's article, Moskovsky komsomolets
      published an article stating that Russian troops continue to suffer
      heavy casualties in Chechnya, but that very few people know about
      this. The author's article, Vladimir Rechkalov, mentioned heavy
      casualties among the military's special forces in Chechnya's
      mountains two months ago, a fact that was not reported in the media.
      Rechkalov hinted in his article that important changes were going to
      happen soon in Chechnya. The journalist pointed out two indications
      of this – the appointment of an ethnic Russian as the new deputy
      Interior Minister of Chechnya and the disappearance of Ramzan Kadyrov
      from Russian TV screens.

      What changes could Rechkalov, a Russian journalist long known to have
      connections with the FSB, be talking about? The deteriorating
      military situation in Chechnya is forcing Russian security officials,
      both the FSB and the military, to look for new options and
      scapegoats. The Russian siloviki are proposing to the Kremlin to
      forget about Chechenization and go back to the old General Yermolov-
      style tactics of mass terror and large-scale zachistki – "mopping up"
      operations – in Chechen towns and villages. Officials of law-
      enforcement agencies are suggesting, "One should act even harsher in
      the republic," Pronin wrote, adding: "Otherwise one day the rebels
      will go beyond the Chechen borders to spread the war into other
      regions."

      As for a scapegoat for their military failures in Chechnya, the
      security officials believe that Ramzan Kadyrov could be the best
      candidate. It seems that whenever their commander-in-chief criticizes
      them for their inability to solve "the Chechen problem," the FSB and
      military leaders readily point to Kadyrov as the main obstacle for
      victory over the Chechen insurgency.

      Andrei Smirnov is an independent journalist covering the North
      Caucasus. He is based in Russia.

      Death of a Jordanian Mujahid: Abu Hafs al-Urdani
      By Dr. Andrew McGregor

      Shortly after the Jordanian Arab Abu Hafs al-Urdani succeeded the
      late Abu Walid as the commander of the foreign mujahideen in
      Chechnya, his death or detention was declared a priority for all of
      Russia's secret services. (RIA Novosti, December 15, 2004) After a
      decade in Chechnya and two years of nearly constant combat operations
      as the leader of a mixed force of Turks, Arabs and diasporic
      Chechens, the Jordanian mujahid was finally killed on November 26 by
      Russian security forces. False reports of his death have circulated
      in the past, but this time a report from the Chechen Eastern Front
      headquarters confirmed the Jordanian's death several days later
      (Kavkaz Center, November 29).

      Abu Hafs (real name Farid Yusuf Amirat) was described by Russia as
      the financier of the Beslan attack and a personal acquaintance of
      Osama Bin Laden. What is certain is that the Jordanian was involved
      in fundraising for the Chechen movement while playing an important
      role in organizing and leading military operations. With years of
      combat experience in Chechnya behind him, the 33-year old Abu Hafs
      was heavily involved in training new mujahideen as well as commanding
      the Eastern Front of resistance operations. His al-Qaeda connections
      have never been verified; while not as dismissive of the terrorist
      group as other Chechen leaders, such as Aslan Maskhadov, Abu Hafs
      made no public claim of affiliation to Osama Bin Laden. This did not
      prevent Abu Hafs from being cited by then-U.S. Secretary of State
      Colin Powell as a leading member of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's "terrorist
      network" in February 2003. The allegation, made during a presentation
      before the UN Security Council, was part of an unlikely description
      of Georgia's Pankisi Gorge as a major centre of al-Qaeda chemical
      warfare activities.

      At times, Abu Hafs expressed hostility to the United States, though
      this does not appear to have been encouraged by the Chechen
      leadership. In an interview earlier this month, Abu Hafs addressed
      the poisonous legacy of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal: "The Abu
      Ghraib prison serves as the greatest proof of the fallacy of the
      American agenda. How shall we trust America after all this?" (Vakit
      [Istanbul], November 12) Since the current war began in 1999, the
      Chechen view has been to avoid unnecessary antagonizations of the
      United States. If the United States would not support the Chechen
      struggle, goes the thinking, then it would be better that it remains
      uninvolved, rather than provide military support to Russia.

      Assault in Khasavyurt
      Following a tip, Russian security forces surrounded a house in
      Khasavyurt. By 6:15 AM, a mixed force of Dagestani police and Alfa
      (special forces) units of the FSB were prepared for the assault on
      the suspects' house. Without warning, two militants were shot by
      snipers through the windows, while the other three being offered a
      chance to surrender, according to the FSB (Kommersant, November 27).
      The FSB report states the operation lasted four hours, though the
      actual fighting lasted only 30 minutes. A later media report claimed
      that three women and five children ran out the back door when
      sharpshooters opened up on the house. In this version, security
      forces continually fired on the house for 2.5 hours (NTV Mir,
      November 26). The Chechen Eastern Front HQ report described a daylong
      battle with only three mujahideen killed (Kavkaz Center, November
      29). When the house was searched, the body of Abu Hafs was discovered
      together with one Chechen and two Dagestani militants, all dead.
      Security forces also reported that they found an assassination list
      containing targets from within the local police, as well as assault
      rifles, machineguns, grenades, explosives and ammunition.

      The FSB report claimed that Abu Hafs was in Dagestan to "engineer and
      commit large-scale terror acts" (ITAR-TASS, November 26), but an FSB
      spokesman added that Abu Hafs may have been in Dagestan attempting to
      flee the region, "given the lack of prospects for jihad in the North
      Caucasus" (Interfax, November 26,). As winter approaches, the Chechen
      resistance typically reduces its forces in the field, sending many to
      winter quarters in other parts of the Caucasus. Abu Hafs may have
      been in Dagestan to organize rebel operations, though travel outside
      of the resistance lines would have been very dangerous for the
      commander, who was quite obviously Arab in appearance. The killings
      in Khasavyurt came only days after reports had emerged that Sadval (a
      militant separatist group based in the Lezgin ethnic group that
      straddles Dagestan and northern Azerbaijan) was planning to cooperate
      with existing Dagestani insurgent formations to break up Dagestan in
      preparation for the establishment of a North Caucasus caliphate (APA
      [Baku], November 22).

      The premier of Chechnya's pro-Russian government, Ramzan Kadyrov,
      alleged that Abu Hafs was the conduit for funding headed to Wahhabist
      groups in the North Caucasus, but also mistakenly called him a Saudi
      Arabian. Ramzan was perhaps referring to an old FSB allegation that
      Abu Hafs also possessed Saudi citizenship. The discrepancy may be
      part of Ramzan's continued posturing as a champion of native Sufi
      Islam over Saudi-inspired "Wahhabism."

      Implications for the Foreign Mujahideen
      There seems to be no obvious successor to Abu Hafs as the leader of
      the foreign mujahideen. Chechnya has declined as a destination for
      Arab jihadis since Coalition operations began in Iraq in 2003. It may
      be time for a Turk to take command, reflecting the changing
      composition of the foreign mujahideen in Chechnya as well as the
      growing reliance on donations from supporters in Turkey. Abu Hafs was
      deeply involved in nurturing the Turkish connection, training Turkish
      volunteers for jihad and appearing in fundraising videos distributed
      in Turkey.

      The FSB described Abu Hafs as "the actual head and financier of
      bandit formations in Chechnya," implying that Chechen resistance to
      Russian rule is managed by foreign terrorists like Bin Laden (RIA
      Novosti, November 26). These claims seem improbable; the Chechen
      insurgency remains ethnic-nationalist at its core and could never be
      led by a foreign militant. Refuting Russian claims, Abu Hafs
      declared, "All commanders are in obedience to [Chechen President]
      Dokku Umarov." At the moment, there is no evidence that Umarov's
      command is disputed; on the contrary, he is a veteran fighter who is
      well respected within the ranks of the mujahideen.

      While Abu Hafs may have handled some foreign donations, the Chechen
      resistance is unlikely to have placed all of its finances in the
      hands of a single person, as suggested by the FSB. The Chechen
      nationalist movement has been very successful in establishing systems
      that can withstand the death of an individual, as seen in the orderly
      transition of power each time a Chechen leader or foreign mujahideen
      commander has been killed.

      Conclusion
      It appears that Russian security forces nearly pulled off a dual
      decapitation of the Chechen resistance last week, with Russian
      reports claiming that Chechen President Dokku Umarov was wounded and
      nearly captured during a three-day operation in the region of Achkhoi-
      Martan (Kommersant, November 24). The attack was allegedly based on
      information regarding Umarov's whereabouts supplied by the 35
      militants who had surrendered at Gudermes. These supposedly included
      members of Umarov's inner circle, though such mass surrenders in the
      past have included many ex-fighters who have been inactive for years.

      Ironically, Russia's success in eliminating Arab mujahideen leaders
      makes it increasingly difficult to maintain their depiction of the
      Chechen resistance as a movement led and controlled by al-Qaeda.
      Logic would suggest that the Chechen nation is not large enough or
      unified enough to be able to replace the many resistance leaders who
      have fallen in combat over the past few years. It has also become
      difficult to attract capable foreign militants in sufficient numbers
      and to keep the Chechen struggle in the public consciousness of the
      Islamic world. An important function of the foreign mujahideen and
      its commander is to keep foreign interest alive in order to raise
      much-needed funds from Muslim communities. Operational leadership is
      becoming a problem for the Chechens as commanders become ever younger
      and more inexperienced. The loss of veteran warriors like Abu Hafs is
      a major blow to the resistance, but before his death, the Jordanian
      remained optimistic about Chechnya's ability to renew its
      leadership: "These young commanders are full of advantages and
      honor; jihad in the way of Allah has raised Chechnya. We should not
      forget that a lion cub is also a lion" (Vakit [Istanbul], November
      12).

      Dr. Andrew McGregor is the director of Aberfoyle International
      Security Analysis in Toronto, Canada.

      -------------------------------------------------------
      http://www.jamestown.org

      Chechnya Weekly is a publication of the Jamestown Foundation.
      Beginning January 2003 with Volume IV, Chechnya Weekly was researched
      and written by Lawrence A. Uzzell, a senior Jamestown Foundation
      fellow who opened Jamestown's Moscow office in 1992 and is President
      of International Religious Freedom Watch (formerly Keston USA).
      Volumes 1-3 [2000-2002] were researched and written by John B.
      Dunlop, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford
      University. The Jamestown Foundation and The American Committee for
      Peace in Chechnya cooperate to raise awareness about the crisis in
      Chechnya.

      If you have any questions regarding the content of Chechnya Weekly,
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      Unauthorized reproduction or redistribution of Chechnya Weekly is
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      Copyright (c) 2000-2006 The Jamestown Foundation
    • Marco Masi
      THE INFORMATION CENTER AT THE RUSSIAN-CEHCHEN FRIENDSHIP SOCIETY THE RUSSIAN-CHECHEN INFORMATION AGENCY Press-release ¹1986 from November 28, 2006 A new
      Message 2 of 2 , Dec 3, 2006
      • 0 Attachment
        THE INFORMATION CENTER AT THE RUSSIAN-CEHCHEN FRIENDSHIP SOCIETY

        THE RUSSIAN-CHECHEN INFORMATION AGENCY

        Press-release ¹1986 from November 28, 2006

        A new school was opened in the Pravoberezhnoye village
        A PACE delegation visited Chechnya

        Report from the Chechen Republic

        Chechen Grozny rural district

        A new school was opened in the Pravoberezhnoye village

        On 27 November 2006 a new school was opened in the Pravoberezhnoye village of the Chechen Grozny rural district. The school’s construction was sponsored by the Ahmat-Haji Kadyrov’s Fund (in fact, it's the case with most of the buildings in the contemporary republic). As usual, the opening ceremony was attended by the Chechen government officials. On this occasion the official delegation comprised the first Vice-Speaker of the Chechen Government Odes Baisultanov, the Chechen Minister of Education Lemma Dadaev, the chief of the district administration Shahid Jamaldaev, the head of the Ahmat-Haji Kadyrov’s Fund Muslim Huchiyev, the head of the joint-stock company “Chechenstroy” Shamal Dudaev. The speakers expressed their gratitude to the Chechen leadership, mainly Ramzan Kadyrov, for having assisted the schools’ construction. The event ended with a concert.

        Grozny

        A PACE delegation visited Chechnya

        On 28 November 2006 a delegation of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) headed by Andreas Gross completed a two-day visit to Chechnya. On the day of their arrival, the 26 November, the representatives of the PACE met the Chechen Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov. The meeting was held in Ramzanov’s palace in the district center Gudermes. Ramzan Kadyrov gave a long and detailed account on the progress made under his leadership, focusing on the rapid return to normality in the republic.

        The next day began with laying flowers on the monument to Ahmat Kadyrov. After that the delegates held a meeting with the Chechen President Alu Alhanov. The meeting ended with agreement from the PACE representatives and the Chechen President that a round-table discussion would be organized in Grozny. The event is to be scheduled later. The head of the round-table subcommittee Andreas Gross and his assistant Tadeush Ivinsky considered necessary to put in the participant’s list the representatives of different groups of the Chechen society, including those subjecting the Chechen leaders to criticism. The visit concluded after a trip to the mountain areas of the Chechen Republic.

        (From our correspondent)

        The editor-in-chief Stanislav Dmitirevsky
        The editor of this issue Oksana Chelysheva

        ----------------------------------------------------------------

        Oh, yes.... laying flowers on monuments and listening to speeches of war criminals will certainly do the thing. It seems that Gross isn't ashamed at all to go ahead with another farcical round table in Grozny where everyone knows that "those subjecting the Chechen leaders to criticism" might never return back to their homes. M.M.

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