“Open Letter to the Chechen Resistance” by Norbert Strade
Mr.Norbert Strade, the editor of Chechnya-sl group, send us to his “Open Letter to Chechen Resistance” via e-mail. We present you his open letter without commenting.
Open Letter to Chechen Resistance
It has been difficult to analyze the ongoing talks between the Government of the ChRI and Kadyrov’s puppet regime. Although the alarm bells were ringing for a while already, there was very limited information about the content. The statements issued after the second rounds of the talks have now established juridical facts and reveal the political direction of the negotiation process.
This is a complicated matter that deserves a more detailed analysis. But it is now possible to make the following principal comments:
There is one fundamental theme on which all discussion of Chechnya’s status must be based: the existence of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria independently of governments, occupations, political sects etc. Why? Because the ChRI is the result of the freely and democratically expressed will of the Chechen people, who voted for the independence of their republic in 1991, based on valid Soviet legislation and international law, and, in 1992, for the Constitution of the ChRI as the legal foundation of their state. Since there is only one sovereign in Chechnya, the Chechen people, nobody except the Chechen electorate has the right to abolish or amend the legal basis of the Chechen state. With other words, the Constitution of the ChRI of 1992 will continue to be the only fundamental law on the territory of Chechnya, until the Chechen nation is able again to decide freely about its own future.
This has some important implications.
Firstly. The occupation of the territory of the ChRI by a foreign power does not give this power the right to abolish Chechnya’s statehood and to incorporate the Chechen territory into its own. This act is a violation of international conventions on the one hand and has no legal value in Chechnya on the other. With other words, all puppet structures, imposed “constitutions” and “laws” are null and void and non-committing for the citizens of the ChRI. As a further consequence, any acts carried out by citizens of the ChRI or others in the framework of these illegally imposed institutions are themselves illegitimate.
Secondly. It follows from this that all unconstitutional institutions are illegitimate, including those established parallel to the puppet structures. This is especially the case with the so-called “North Caucasian Emirate”, whose autocratic leader unilaterally declared that he has abolished the ChRI and its Constitution and incorporated the territory of Chechnya into his virtual state. It is of no importance if the head of this new virtual entity used to be President of the ChRI. The President isn’t the sovereign of Chechnya but the servant of the sovereign and has no authority to dictate his will to the latter. Enough has been said about this false-flag operation, whose main function it is to split the Chechen Resistance, to divert the military Resistance from its primary and constitutional task to bring an end to the occupation of Chechnya, and to isolate the Chechen Resistance from the rest of the world..
Thirdly. The fact that neither occupiers, self-declared entities nor members of the ChRI authorities have the right to interfere with the Constitution of the ChRI, furthermore implies that no legitimate government body either has the right to trade Chechen sovereignty – as a whole or in parts – for an agreement with the occupiers or their local puppets. If members of a legitimate ChRI institution violate this principle, they automatically give up their authority and are acting as private citizens with the same juridical liabilities as everybody else.
The following political results of the current talks can be defined so far:
Firstly. The ChRI Zakayev administration has now recognized the Kadyrov puppet “government” as a legitimate institution, and in the same process reduced the ChRI institutions to just one administration among others.
Secondly. By aiming towards a reconciliation with the puppet structures in some kind of “national consolidation” and by reducing the ongoing war to an “internal Chechen conflict”, the ChRI negotiators are ignoring the fact that the ChRI is a country under foreign occupation. Furthermore, the negotiation process ignores the existence of the centuries-old Russian-Chechen conflict as the fundamental source of and continuing reason for the current war. The ChRI negotiators are claiming on the one hand that the talks with the Chechen puppets are de facto talks with Russia and on the other hand that they are negotiating a settlement to an inter-Chechen conflict. These two claims are mutually exclusive; therefore the political platform of the talks doesn’t make any sense.
Thirdly. The talks resulted in an agreement to call for a new meeting of the “World Chechen Congress”, claiming that it will be a continuation of the congress in Copenhagen in 2002. But the new congress will be of a different nature. Read again the resolution passed by the 2002 Congress, which did not question Chechen independence or the legitimacy of the ChRI, quote: “The Congress expresses the view, that a change in the leadership of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria is possible only if it occurs on the basis of the free expression of the will of the Chechen people, which is incompatible with the presence of Russian troops on Chechen land.” Also, the 2002 Congress didn’t include representatives of the Chechen puppet structures, only a number of Russian politicians of Chechen origin who recognized the legitimacy of the ChRI to some degree. The planned congress, on the other hand, will have as its main participants the representatives of the ChRI structures and the representatives of the Quisling regime, the latter figuring in one way or another as representatives of the Russian Federation. Their presence means that the WCC will include the Russian enemy on an equal level with the ChRI structures. The Congress will thus cease to be an exclusively Chechen institution with the task to discuss a united Chechen policy for the solution of the Russian-Chechen conflict (which was the agenda of the 2002 Congress). Instead, what is falsely called the WCC will de facto be a Russian-Chechen Roundtable with the task to prepare the incorporation of the ChRI element into some kind of “Chechnya Special Zone” within the Russian Federation, similar to the idea proposed some time ago by the CoE official Andreas Gross, which was vehemently opposed by the ChRI Government.
Fourthly. The ChRI representatives didn’t make detailed comments about the ultimate goal of the negotiation process, but their mentor and initiator of the talks, Ivar Amundsen, has stated in unambiguous terms his “hope” that the “talks will ultimately lead to a higher degree of Chechen autonomy within the Russian Federation”. If the ChRI negotiators don’t state unequivocally that they disagree with this vision, it must be assumed that they share it.
Anyone who accepts the unilateral incorporation and military conquest of Chechnya by the Russian Federation is positioning himself beyond the limits of Chechen legitimacy and international law. Nobody should make the mistake to believe that this can be done as a purely tactical move without any serious consequences, for any construct that includes a Chechen entity within the Russian Federation pushes the Chechen sovereign, the people with its democratically established institutions, out of the process and thus turns the process itself into a series of intrigues and trade-offs between individual Chechen citizens and the Russian occupiers. With other words, it will render the entire venture and its protagonists irrelevant for the solution of the Russian-Chechen conflict.
The world is already witnessing the first practical consequences of the “reconciliation” with the Quisling regime in the fact that Ahmed Zakayev saw it necessary to explicitly exonerate the person of Ramzan Kadyrov of the most recent murders of human rights activists – in both cases “announced deaths” after threats issued against the victims by Kadyrov personally or his senior thugs.
There will be far more serious developments if the “reconciliation”, i.e. the incorporation of the current ChRI authorities into the puppet structures, is crowned with “success”. Because the military Resistance, which already now is largely beyond the control of the official ChRI structures, will most likely ignore any agreement with the puppets and continue unabated. This can only have one result – that the new member group of the “united puppet structures” will end up fighting the Chechen Resistance!
All this is taking place on the background of incessant claims that the main goal of the “reconciliation” is to put an end to Chechenization, which allegedly lies at the core of the “Chechen problem”, according to the proponents of this policy. But quite to the contrary, the unification of the ChRI administration and the existing puppet structures will create an even worse form of Chechenization and move the entire concept to a higher level.
I believe that the negotiation process with all its implications has already transgressed even the most extreme limits of allowed and tactically necessary political manoeuvring. We are witnessing the collapse of the last existing Chechen administration with some degree of formal legitimacy, after it entered on a path to recognize the Russian Federation as the sovereign of Chechnya and thus to eliminate itself as a Chechen institution.
A short explanation why I have considered the Saralyapov/Zakayev structures to be the legitimate administration of the ChRI until now: It was the only alternative in 2007. Nobody else – including Zakayev’s Constitutionalist critics – presented any practical program to save the ChRI. It is correct that some important constitutional rules were violated in the creation of the new structures, especially by ignoring the necessary parliamentary quorum and by establishing the unconstitutional post of prime minister. But, if Saralyapov/Zakayev had not acted, the citizens of the ChRI would have remained without any organized representation in an extremely critical situation for the Chechen state. It was correct under these circumstances to create structures which – though not fully legal – were as legitimate as possible.
I’m not going to speculate here in detail about the reasons for the change of policy that moved the defenders of the ChRI to now give up the idea of Chechen independence. There are many aspects and facets which deserve a special analysis. But two factors are evident:
Firstly, Chechen exile politicians became isolated for many reasons, among them the outrageous Western attitude to let “realpolitics” go before international law and thus to perpetuate the conflict and prevent a solution, and in the course of this policy to engage the Chechens in endless and meaningless “processes” in Strasbourg and Brussels. The Russian side, too, had some success with splitting the Resistance along several lines. These blind alleys have been facilitated by an unfounded belief in Western “promises” as well as Russian “peace initiatives” and false-flag operations, and a general lack of strategic thinking on the Chechen side. The isolation drove the Chechen leaders into the arms of the few remaining high-profiles people and organizations who promised active support, among them well-wishers with good but short-sighted intentions, but also, and prominently, unfriendly groups and figures who are trying to use the Chechen tragedy for their own obscure political purposes on behalf of various external masters.
Secondly, as a result of the mentioned lack of strategic analysis and of other shortcomings, first of all a still prevailing “Soviet” mentality, there has been a manifest inability among the protagonists of Chechen statehood to unite around the central issues. Instead, we have witnessed political splits into smaller and smaller entities. If those who stood idly by and engaged in personal attacks against Ahmed Zakayev and others during the “emirate” crisis of 2007, instead had found the strength to contribute actively to save the legitimate ChRI structures, they might have been able to act as a corrective to well-known tendencies by the ChRI leadership to transgress their competences in attempts to find a compromise solution with Russia. Still, many people are even now wasting precious time and energy with propaganda and personal smear against the protagonists of the Oslo-London process, the main purpose of which is to divert the focus from the political issues and their own past and present mistakes. Some people have nothing better to do than to declare themselves the latest new “ChRI government”. Now as little as two people seem to be sufficient for such a declaration. Others again are rushing to propose their own humble person as the new ChRI prime minister, and so on.
These are depressing scenes, and none of the mentioned political escapades will bring the suffering of the Chechen people any closer to an end, not to mention contribute to a solution of the Russian-Chechen conflict.
So what can be done now?
I have always held the opinion that the international friends of Chechnya don’t have the right to tell the Chechens what to do, exactly because there is only one sovereign in your country. But now the question is once again, what is the best support for this sovereign and how can the remaining defenders of the ChRI Constitution reconstruct a united leadership and establish organizational structures that can responsibly speak and act on behalf of the Chechen people?
Here are a some ideas:
After the last legitimate ChRI authorities in continuation of the elected government of Aslan Maskhadov decided to surrender their legitimacy, the remaining ChRI structures don’t have enough substance to create new legitimate and, first of all, credible authorities out of their own ranks. On the other hand, principal supporters of the ChRI are found in and around each of the various contesting Resistance groupings, and probably also among the many people who have long ago given up to join any of them. Besides that, it is highly probable that there are many rank-and-file members of the puppet structures who are serving the enemy for the only reason that they don’t have any alternative, and who are seeking a way out of their miserable situation.
This means that the ChRI supporters must find new forms of representation from the entire spectrum of those who share the most important principle, the defense of the will of the Chechen people.
It is now necessary to establish an entirely new structure in the form of a “National Rescue Committee”. This structure needs to be a “flat” organization, following Chechen traditions, with a program that can engage the largest possible number of people on the basis of the Chechen Constitution and keep a door open for those who found themselves in other organizations due to the lack of alternatives. Its minimal platform ought to be:
– To defend the independent Chechen statehood in the form of the ChRI and its Constitution of 1992;
– To unite all citizens who support the legitimate Chechen statehood, independent of their other political or religious observances;
– To establish a representation of the Chechen people which can perform the duties of an interim government until regular elections can be held again;
– To unite the Chechen people on this basis behind the fighting Resistance, to work for unity among the various Resistance groups, and to work for the re-establishment of a united military command for all units that support the legitimate Chechen state and its self-defense against the Russian aggression;
– To work actively among members of illegal armed formations operating on the territory of the ChRI (the Chechen puppet structures and the FSB “emirate”) and members of the now obsolete “government structures”, with the objective to give as many of them as possible a chance to revert to legality.
And finally, based on the assessment that the military Resistance will not cease in the foreseeable future but has been channelled by Russian and other foreign machinations into the form of an eternal and resultless low-level war:
– To establish the necessary structures in order to carry out a thorough investigation of the political and military history of the ChRI since 1991 and of the political, economical and military strengths and weaknesses of the enemy, and on this basis to prepare a fully professional strategy which can bring the conflict to a conclusion through a successful military-political campaign.
The Oslo-London process has provoked many reactions. There is already going inflation into “World Chechen Congresses”. Besides the Roundtable in disguise, some people are now planning their own congress, and other divisive meetings and creations of new “ChRI” institutions might be on their way. What is necessary now, to the contrary, is that all supporters of the ChRI give up their pet projects and engage in talks with the goal to call one unified Chechen Resistance congress, which will be assigned the task to establish the basic structures described above.
The latest developments have created the necessary clarity about the positions of the various political forces. The situation therefore provides the Chechen Resistance with one last chance to establish structures and policies which can achieve an end to the Russian-Chechen conflict during the current historical period. All Chechen citizens who are ready to defend the expressed will of their people must now put aside personal ambitions, petty political fiefdoms and imposed sectarian divisions, and act responsibly.