The Supreme Shariat Court of the Caucasus Emirate proclaimed in late 2007 by former Chechen Republic Ichkeria (ChRI) President and North Caucasus resistance commander Doku Umarov has issued a fatwa condemning to death Akhmed Zakayev, who heads the ChRI government in exile. A statement announcing that decision was posted on August 25 on the Caucasus Emirate website kavkazcenter.com
That statement argued that Zakayev's public statements testify to his having betrayed the Muslim faith. It said he "professes democratic religion, propagates secularism, and prefers the laws established by men to the Shari'a law of Almighty and Great Allah."
Two days earlier, on August 23, Zhalaudi Saralyapov, chairman of the ChRI parliament in exile, issued a decree
dismissing the cabinet in exile and Zakayev as its head, and taking upon himself the duties of cabinet head. Saralyapov's stated rationale for doing so was that Zakayev violated the ChRI Constitution by recognizing the legitimacy of the pro-Moscow Chechen Republic leadership.
Saralyapov said the parliament and government in exile authorized Zakayev to discuss with pro-Moscow Chechen officials only a proposal advanced by the latter that the Russian Federation should recognize the Chechen Republic as an independent state just as it recognized Abkhazia and South Ossetia one year ago.
Over the past three months, Zakayev has met several times with Chechen Republic officials, including parliament Chairman Dukvakha Abdurakhmanov, to discuss ways to promote national reconciliation
. Several ChRI parliament deputies officially endorsed those talks at a meeting in Berlin on July 25 as an opportunity to bring to an end the continuing killing
of Chechens by fellow Chechens.
Virtually the entire ChRI parliament and government in exile have since disavowed and distanced themselves from Saralyapov's decree. In a statement
dated August 25, three parliament deputies, eight government officials, 11ChRI diplomatic representatives, four former participants in the wars of 1994-96 and 1999-2000, and the widow of slain ChRI President Aslan Maskhadov denounced that decree as "irresponsible, politically illiterate, and legally without foundation."
They confirmed that Zakayev coordinates his moves with the ChRI parliament and government and dismissed as "slander" Saralyapov's charge that Zakayev has formally recognized the legitimacy of the Chechen Republic leadership.
The signatories further praised the ChRI leadership for demonstrating "mental flexibility and political acuity" and setting in motion the process of resolving the Chechen conflict through talks with representatives of the Russian Federation.
They further called for convening an emergency session of the ChRI government and parliament to which members of the Chechen community would be invited. They stressed that the cabinet should in the meantime continue to discharge its duties in order to preclude "disorganization within the executive branch."
The statement failed, however, to clarify or comment on Saralyapov's claim that the pro-Moscow Chechen officials raised with Zakayev the possibility that Moscow should recognize the Chechen Republic as an independent state.