The appeal expresses gratitude that the Chechen people continue to support the “mujaheds” and remain steadfast “at this difficult time.” It affirms the fighters’ shared determination to continue defending “our small piece of land” on which the blood of thousands of Chechens has been shed.
In a clear allusion to the pro-Moscow Chechen leadership’s tactical alliance with Orthodox Russia, it warns Chechens not to trust those of other faiths, quoting from the Koran to underscore that point.
If, the appeal continues, anyone really thinks the fate of the Chechen people will be decided in Strasbourg, Washington, or Moscow, he is profoundly mistaken: it is the fighters who are defending their religion, honor, and freedom who will put an end to the “Russia-Caucasus war.”
The unsigned appeal ends with a request “not to forget us in your prayers.”
The pamphlet is possibly of greater interest for what it does not say than for what it does. It stresses the Chechen fighters’ commitment to defending their faith and the freedom of Chechnya.
New Split In Rebel Ranks?
The appeal does not mention the Caucasus Emirate proclaimed exactly five years ago by then Chechen Republic Ichkeria President Doku Umarov, or Umarov personally. Neither does it mention any member of either the Russian or the pro-Moscow Chechen leadership.
The question thus arises whether it was the work of the senior Chechen commanders who rebelled against Umarov in August 2010, but repledged their loyalty to him 10 months later for reasons that remain unclear.
The style of the missive suggests it may have been authored by one of those men: Muslim Gakayev.
Muslim is the younger brother of Khusein Gakayev, whom the fighters who split with Umarov elected as their leader, and who was formally endorsed by the Chechen Republic Ichkeria leadership in exile.
Does the appeal reflect a new split in the Chechen fighters’ ranks? Or, if the authors were simply acting without Umarov’s knowledge and approval, could it precipitate one?
Also of interest is how and where the fighters managed to print or Xerox 1,000 copies of the leaflet, given the risks inherent in expressing the slightest criticism of Chechen Republic head Ramzan Kadyrov.