03/31/2023, 09.38
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The return of Ičkeria to the Russian Caucasus: Chechen separatism threatens Putin

by Vladimir Rozanskij

Supporters of Chechnya's independence, suppressed by Putin 20 years ago, reappear. Local leader Kadyrov could exploit the movement if ignored by the Kremlin. Chechen independence battalion fights against the Russians in Ukraine.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - In the centre of Groznyj, the capital of the Russian republic of Chechnya in the northern Caucasus, unusual banners and video banners have appeared on Prospekt Kadyrov dedicated to the "founder of the homeland" Akhmat, father of the current president Ramzan.

The inscriptions and faces on a dark-red background praise the representatives of the 'intelligentsija Vajnakhskskaja', the supporters of the independence of Ičkeria, the Chechen-Ingush state for which the long civil war of post-communism was waged.

The Vainaks were those tribes, settled in the Caucasus regions, that gave rise to the present Chechen people, the Ingush ethnic group and others in the region, according to a definition that appeared among ethnographers at the beginning of the 20th century.

This term was intended to indicate the bearers of the ancient languages derived from 'Nakhskaya', in a reinterpretation of the rather obscure roots of the peoples of this ancient and multiform area on the border between Europe and Asia.

The screen of propaganda banners displays images of 1970s writer Abuzar Ajdamirov, author of the Ičkeria anthem, and civil war hero Jusup Temirkhanov, convicted for the murder of Russian commander Jurij Budanov, who had abducted and killed 18-year-old Chechen girl Elza Kungaeva. Also appearing are the surgeon Khasan Baiev, who was very active during the conflict, and the bard of Chechen independence, the writer Abdurakhman Avtorkhanov.

The first to spread the images of the video banner on his Facebook page was the well-known entrepreneur Juni Uspanov, known by some as 'Kadyrov's cook', a restaurateur awarded the title of 'civil hero' in 2011.

His restaurants, spread all over the Caucasus, are renowned not only for their delicious dishes, but also for the exhibitions that make them true museums of the history of the Caucasian peoples, and even the interiors are always furnished in the local style.

The reference to the Ičkeria independence fighters is provocative in the context of the war in Ukraine, of which the Chechen president is one of the main supporters and animators, in tune - but also in competition - with the other famous warmonger, 'Putin's cook' Evgenij Prigožin. While the latter seems ready to run as Putin's opponent in the 2024 presidential elections, Kadyrov has been hinting for some time that if Russia does not give him the political space he deserves, he might turn again to partition.

Avtorkhanov was the great Soviet-era dissident at the time of World War II, when in order to support the cause of Ičkeria's independence, he had decided to support the Nazi regime in Germany, with motives similar to Ukrainian independence hero Stepan Bandera. The 'denazification of Ukraine', the initial motivation for the Putin invasion, referred precisely to these tendencies, which seem to be replicated on the Caucasian side.

Surgeon Baiev saved the life of one of the leaders of the Chechen war against the Russians, Commander Šamil Basaev, by amputating his leg directly in the field. He was then persecuted by both Chechen fighters and Putin federal forces, and still lives and works in Groznyj.

So far, the supporters of the revival of Ičkeria have sided against Kadyrov, guilty of supporting Putin's war imperialism, and had launched a jihad against the Chechen president in the summer of 2022.

Anzor Maskhadov, son of former Ičkeria president Aslan, leads the battalion of Chechens fighting on the side of Ukraine. His aim is to achieve the 'de-occupation and independence' of Chechnya, suppressed by Putin in the early 2000s, the Kremlin leader's first major political-military operation.

The Verkhovnaja Rada, the parliament in Kiev, approved a declaration in October to recognise Chechnya as 'temporarily occupied territory of Russia', accused of the 'genocide of the Chechen people'. The outcome of the war could lead to profound changes in a region already subject to frequent earthquakes, which will be felt as far as Moscow and Kiev, and perhaps as far as Washington and Beijing.

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See also
Winds of civil war sweep the Russian Caucasus
05/01/2022 09:07
The Nogai Mongols against the Russian Empire
Moscow breaks communion with Constantinople
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