Tuesday, July 11, 2006

"Basayev Has Harmed Us"

From Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, July 10:
Chechen Foreign Minister Zakayev - No Weakening

(my tr.)

“Basayev has harmed us”

In the opinion of Akhmed Zakayev, foreign minister of the government of the unrecognized Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, the death of Shamil Basayev will not lead to a weakening of the separatist forces. Zakayev, who has lived in London since late 2002, observed in an interview for the newspaper that Russia has been trying to bring Chechnya to its knees from time immemorial. Despite the fact that many people have been killed during all that time, the national idea still lives in the minds of the Chechen people. According to Zakayev, peace will come to Chechnya if and only if Russia recognizes the Chechens’ right to self-determination. The reason for opposition will thereby be removed. Zakayev refutes information that the Russian army has recently achieved substantial advances in the fight against the separatists. In his opinion, the liquidation by the Russian special services of Aslan Maskhadov, elected President of Ichkeria in 1997, and then of his successor Abdul-Khalim Sadulayev, can be considered "flukes".

Zakayev emphasized that the government of the unrecognized Chechen republic has never declared its solidarity with the actions and "methods" of Basayev. The crimes in which Basayev claimed his involvement discredited the Chechen resistance. Basayev harmed the Chechens. Commenting on the recent appointment of Basayev to the post of vice president of the government of Ichkeria, Zakayev said: "Basayev’s entering the government damaged our reputation." Basayev stopped giving orders for terrorist acts directed against innocent civilians after he became a member of the government last summer, when he took up the post of deputy prime minister. President Sadulayev, who was liquidated in mid-June, said it was necessary to accept this loss of reputation if it presented the Chechens with the chance of avoiding future tragedies similar to Beslan. Only at the end of last week, in interview for Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, Zakayev said that he considered Basayev’s promotion a mistake.

Zakayev belongs to the moderately nationalistic, non-Islamic wing of the Chechen separatists. At the end of last week he published a "Manifesto for Peace in Chechnya", in which for the first time he renounced demands for Chechnya’s independence. " If, on the basis of international law, some other solution for peace with the Russians can be found” , and an end to the violence, "then we are open to negotiations about this." The Manifesto concludes with the sentence: " We condemn all forms of violence against the civilian population, including terrorist acts. “ So far Russia’s President Putin has decisively declined the possibility of talks with the government of unacknowledged Ichkeria.
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