Wednesday, September 06, 2006

September 6: Chechnya's Independence Day

Via Prague Watchdog (my tr.)

5 years since the proclamation of the Chechen Republic’s independence


by Umalt Chadayev

On September 6 1991 the All-National Congress of the Chechen People (OKChN) declared the national sovereignty of the Chechen republic. Today this holiday is observed in Chechnya as the Day of Civic Concord and Unity, or Republic Day.

Grozny’s municipal authorities have announced that on September 6 a number of cultural and mass events will take place, dedicated to the celebration of the Day of Civic Concord and Unity. A large public concert will be held in the centre of Grozny, with the participation of Chechen variety stars. There will also be celebratory events in the republic’s other cities and major population centres.

In the years of the governments of Dzhokhar Dudayev and Aslan Maskhadov, September 6 was always marked as the Chechen state’s Independence Day. It was a date on which military parades, rallies, and other celebratory events were held. There were also prayers and religious sacrifices.

The first large-scale celebration of Independence Day took place in 1992. It involved a military parade and special concert in one of the Chechen capital’s sports stadiums. In the following year, the Independence Day celebrations were attended by the LDPR party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky (now the vice-speaker of the Russian State Duma). At the time Mr. Zhirinovsky stated that "Now I have two good friends - Saddam Hussein and Dzhokhar Dudayev," which, however, did not prevent him later on (after the beginning of military actions in Chechnya) from completely changing his views on Dudayev and his relation to him.

The Independence Day of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria was even marked in September 1995, despite the fact that a large number of Russian soldiers and officers of various law enforcement agencies were located in Grozny. On that day tens of thousands of the republic’s residents took to the streets of Grozny and marched through the centre of the Chechen capital holding Ichkerian flags, portraits of Dzhokhar Dudayev and banners, and demanding an immediate end to the war and the withdrawal of Russian troops from the republic’s territory.

September 6 was also a holiday in 1996, since only a few days earlier that year Aleksandr Lebed, and Aslan Maskhadov had signed a treaty in the Daghestan city of Khasavyurt, thus bringing an end to the "first Chechen war".

Chechen Independence Day was observed as a state holiday for the last time in September 1999, shortly before the start of the second military campaign. That day, Russian aircraft had already begun to bomb the republic’s population centres in the region of the administrative border with Dagestan, and so the mass events were cancelled.

In 2002 Chechen administrative head Akhmat-Khadzhi Kadyrov (who later became the Kremlin-backed President of Chechnya, and was assassinated in May 2004 in Grozny’s Dinamo Stadium), issued a decree renaming Independence Day Republic Day. Today this holiday is called the Day of Civic Concord and Unity.
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