Jonathan Littell: “This is the Kadirov’s Chechnya…”
We present you an interview of Jonathan Littell, author of “Chechnya Years III”. In his book Mr Littell explain puppet Ramzan Kadirov’s three years after he came to power with order of Kremlin. During the interview Mr Littell points out that the corruption, abductions, torture and extra judical execution in Kadirov’s Chechnya.
Le Nouvel Observateur: Why did you write a book on Chechnya, and why now, in this time?
Jonathan Littell: I have been in Chechnya until the beginning of 2001, during first and second war times, and worked as a member of Action Contre La Faim (Actions Against Hungry), a ngo. In last three years, after pro-Russian Ramzan Kadirov came to power, I have started to heard many contradictions. According the news, everything is okay and rebuilding of the country. Even, viewpoints of my some Chechen friends was positive about Kadirov. Some of Chechen rebels who are my friends and settled in European countries, have started to go back their homeland. So, just I was wondering what is happening in Chechnya and decided to visit it.
Le Nouvel Observateur: You are in Grozny and you may see that nearly there isn’t any trace of the war and life was returned to normalcy…
Jonathann Littell: Yes, I saw a superficial normalization. During ten years, Grozny had completely rebuilded from the condition of Stalingrad in 1945. However, different feels come into existance. Such a sensitive situation. A secret, perdu terror is exist. But nobody speaks about it, even your closest friends, too.
Le Nouvel Observateur: Even so, does the terror be understood?
Jonathan Littell: Personally, I didn’t realized it. But, there is a terror. This is the evidence: Natalya Estemirova was killed, two months after my arrival. I spoke with the people who doesn’t interested in and doesn’t care the human rights. More of an, they made complaints about corruptions. I have friends, working in medicine sector; they would know that many people came to emergency services with torture injures, but never spoke about it with me. It is really hard to understand what Chechens keep in their mind.
Le Nouvel Observateur: What do you think about reconstruction, is it a hoodwing?
Jonathan Littell: A serious structring happened on the estate and substructure sectors. There is an observable improvement on public services -hospital,school,way,electric,gas-. But there isn’t any activity on manufactoring sector. For example, even if one of industrial plants didn’t repair. You must work in pro-Moscow government or create a small business for gaining money. Only if Ramzan Kadirov can’t blame for it. In this way, Moscow wants Chechnya come under them and they may cut corruption clamp.
Le Nouvel Observateur: Is corruption’s dimension eye cathcing?
Jonathan Littell: A portion of the money sharing by society; but the system is fully as a carrion crow. The system works with a huge fond -looted and proffered money- by Moscow. It is very easy to build a hospital with its quarter price; hand out a part of it and devoted to rest of the money for yourself. Once in a fest, Kadirov spilled 5.000 rubles banknotes (around 100 euros) from a helicopter upon the people.
Le Nouvel Observateur: Does Kadirov has a certain political vision?
Jonathan Littell: There is a crazy neo-Islam case. Controlling and making women into the slave is disgusting. But especially the terrorism, and nothing you can do. Until sometime ago, people were kidnapping in nights by masked and armed men. In case, now in the daylight armed men without masks kidnap the civilians as Zarema Sadulayeva and his husband were kidnapped in August. Police came to this couple’s Office and took away them. Later they have found in trunk of their car, and there were traces of torture on the body of Zarema. Everybody knows who did it. Even, the guilties don’t need to hide themselves. Since I finished my book, the pressure on the workers of Memorial increased. They are constantly threatened, followed by gunmen; gunmen stood up in front of their houses and say: leave from the country or we will kill you! They have no other way than leaving from Chechnya. Everyone knows that if there isn’t any news source from inside, then Russian human rights organizations can not be effective.
Le Nouvel Observateur: How do you explain that the situation is going worse?
Jonathan Littell: A close relative of Ramzan Kadirov had threatened international organizations and human rights defenders in the beginning of July. Since that day, the threats is putting into practice. Non-farsighted Kadirov couldn’t estimate that killing of Natalya Estemirova will bring such reactions. When he saw rising world-wide reaction, he just tighten up on his position. Forasmuch as allthough the promises of Russian authorities for serious and extensive investigation, yet nothing have done. Pro-Moscow Chechen authorities perceived it as a gren light. Now they may destroy anyone who clips their wings, for some reason anybody doesn’t ask questions on their debts. In Moscow human rights defenders have little tolerance, but especially for presenting of liberalism program of President Dmitry Medvedev, a cleaning is done in Chechnya. When I came back from Chechnya, I was thinking that everything is not perfect but there is something good. But after the murder of Natalya Estemirova, the situation is completely changed. During the Stalin term, when people was disappearing in the nights, there was building factories and roads.
Le Nouvel Observateur: Does Ramzan Kadirov has support of society?
Jonathan Littell: If Moscow pull its support for Kadirov, then 80% of people who are around of him now, will be lost as a smoke. Veterans in the alliance with him, people who fear their positions and people who obeys the power of money will leave him. Maximum 200-300 people may faithful and sacrifice their lives. But leaving attempt from Kadirov and to be a part of Islamic resistance has a lot of difference. Now resistance is so small and so Islamic, for this reason people who has national feelings don’t give their huge support like old times in 1990s. Most of people stil has independence dream, but they say they will use their power when the real struggle is become possible.
Le Nouvel Observateur: Why does Moscow allowe to Chechen regime for using Islamic role, especially a radical Islamic role?
Jonathan Littell: It is the historical attitude of Russians against Islam religion: allowing people to be performing of narrow minded and radical religious; so they may prevent progressionists who favores reforms. The local radical Islam which may find a place in Chechnya, doesn’t bother Russia; as long as they obey main power. Fundamentalism is establishing by Kadirov, for fighting against Salafist and Vahabist Islamic resistance. Russia doesn’t pay attention to any progressive, economic development or women rights. The only thing they want to keep this region under their political and military control.
Le Nouvel Observateur: Doesn’t Russia afraid to lose region, because they gave a natural autonomus for Chechnya under controlling of Kadirov?
Jonathan Littell: The situaiton is quite complicated. There is no winner, no loser. There is only instability. Moscow has staged a classic game: they used fundementalists as puppet for fight backing and destroying to moderated independent groups. We are faced currently a civil war between Chechens. Yes, it may be a small war which is under controlling of Russians. But its side-effects are transmitting into neighbour Ingushetia and Dagestan. Russia loose her footing in neightbouring republics, and they tries to solve their problems in Chechnya. They have no certain strategies; Russia keep beating the dead horse. As all the times, North Caucasus is badly managing.
Note: The book with 140 pages of Jonathan Littell, “Tchétchénie an III” (Chechnya Years III) are published on November 26. Its price is only 6 Euros.
19 November 2009
Henri Guirchoun, Jean-Baptiste Naudet
Source: Le Nouvel Observateur