10/21/2009, 00.00
RUSSIA – CHECHNYA – EU
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Chechen “culture centres” in Europe, a mask for fundamentalism and dictatorship

Summary executions of Chechen human rights activists or opponents to the Kadyrov regime push Chechen refugees to warn European governments. Chechen president praises Sharia, requires women wear the veil and limits the sale of alcoholic beverages.
Moscow (AsiaNews) – Chechen refugees in Europe are telling Western governments to be wary that the “Chechen Culture Centres” the Chechen government wants to open across the Old Continent  are nothing but venues for the regime to stifle Chechen dissent. They warn that these unofficial embassies could also be used to spread propaganda in favour of radical Islam, which the pro-Moscow Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov is already doing at home. All this is being done with the approval of Moscow, which until a few years ago was bent on eradicating every form of political Islam in Chechnya because of its alleged support for al-Qaeda terror.

The first to speak out are Chechen refugees in Denmark who published an appeal to the government and parliament of Denmark about plans by Kadyrov’s bloody regime to open a so-called embassy in the Danish capital.

However, for Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov, these centres are intended to “inform” Chechen migrants about the situation in their homeland and help those who want to go home. Chechen refugees disagree.

“Taking into account the daily terror inflicted on both the relatives of the members of the Chechen resistance movement and members of international human rights organisations investigating the murderous activities of Kadyrov’s regime, as well as the recent political assassinations of Chechens in Austria, Turkey, and Dubai, we would have reason to be seriously worried about our own security if Kadyrov’s representatives set foot in Denmark. [. . .] No promises of heavenly pleasures in Kadyrov’s Chechnya or physical threats against us will force us to return to a country where [. . .] people are deprived of their basic democratic rights and freedoms guaranteed under the UN Declaration of Human Rights, signed by Russian leaders, the appeal read.

In addition to Denmark, the pro-Moscow regime in Chechnya plans to open offices in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, and Poland, home to sizable populations of exiled Chechens.

According to Chechnya’s Minister of Information, there are over 100,000 Chechens living in Europe, but the overall number of Chechens living outside of Russia is estimated to be around 209,000.

Experts are alarmed by another aspect of Kadyrov’s initiative. They are concerned that the new “culture centres” could be used as propaganda hubs for the Chechen leader’s own version of Islamic fundamentalism, which he is promoting at home.

Except for the remaining Islamist terror cells that are still operating in the “pacified” Russian Republic, Islam is undergoing a renaissance of sorts as Sharia is imposed on many aspects of daily life.

Since February, for example, alcoholic beverages with more than 15-degree proof can only be sold in the morning between 8 and 10 pm. Women working in public buildings are now required to cover their head. European-style weddings gowns showing cleavage are banned.

What is more, the Chechen president now praises polygamy, justifies honour killings and claims that a return to Islamic principles is a way to counter Wahhabi missionaries.

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