Give Back the Gifts to Regain Your Dignity!
The leading French newspaper “Le Monde” has published Jean-Marie Fardeau, the international organization Human Rights Watch director in France’s letter, which asks former French football players to return Kadyrov’s gifts.
In early May, a group of former football stars participated in the opening event of a newly built stadium in the Russian occupied Chechen Republic of Ichkeria. According to various media reports, these players made between 20 thousand and 1 million Euros to appear at this propaganda event. The French television channel “Canal+” reported that luxury Swiss watches were given as gifts for players. Since then the French media and French Football Federation have had strong discussions about the participation of French players in this shameful event.
“Messrs Amoros, Barthez, Boghossian and Papin, you have all played for the French national team and you won the World Cup in 1998. Mr. Boghossian, you are the current assistant coach of the national football team of France. You participated, alongside Maradona, Zamorano, Figo and other former stars of world football at a match which was organized by [pro-Russian] Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov to inaugurate the new stadium in Grozny…
Gentlemen, Chechnya is not a trivial point… I don’t know, before or after your trip, whether you took time to read what was said about the regime in Chechnya on Wikipedia. I also invite you to read the reports on the situation in Chechnya from Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, International Federation for Human Rights, and Reporters Without Borders, as well as other associations which defend human rights. These reports are damning and denounce the [pro-Russian] Chechen authorities because of the abductions, torture, and constant pressure on human rights defenders. In July 2009, one of the figureheads of human rights in Chechnya, Natalya Estemirova was murdered after being kidnapped in Grozny. So far, the perpetrator and instigators of this murder have not been identified.
Gentlemen, behind the facade of the rebuilding in Grozny and out of the limelight of the stage opened during your visit, the regime of Kadyrov is bossy and disrespectful to human rights. It is unworthy that you have agreed to go there without mentioning the human rights problems and accepting the watches with diamonds which were delivered to everyone by the head of [pro-Russian] Chechen police before your departure… This match had nothing do with sporting events, but it was more like a personal promotion of Kadyrov.
Gentlemen, I ask you to immediately return these gifts to Kadyrov, and for those who received a check, to give this money to an human rights association in Chechnya to regain your dignity… Whatever disciplinary decision will be taken by the French Football Federation against Mr. Boghossian, it’s not too late for all of you to regain your honor by returning the watch to its sender and donating the money,” wrote Jean-Marie Fardeau.
*Text was translated by Waynakh Online and edited by Michael Capobianco