Zakayev: Chechens Support Ukraine in the Struggle of Statehood!
Akhmed Zakayev, Prime Minister of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, was the telephone guest of the Kyiv based Ukrainian radio “Vesti“. He spoke about the position of Chechen people related with the incidents in Ukraine.
We share with you the transcription of his radio interview which was held on the evening of May 28, 2014 during the program of “Maximum Opinions“:
Saken Aymurzayev, host from the Radio Vesti: We are connected to Akhmed Zakayev right now. Good evening Akhmed Khalidovich!
Akhmed Zakayev, Prime Minister of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria: Good evening!
Saken Aymurzayev: The first question that I would like to ask you, is coming from our listeners who learned that you will be our guest. Gregory from Dnepropetrovsk wrote us: “Why Chechens are fighting against us? After all, we don’t support the Russian war in Chechnya?”
Akhmed Zakayev: First of all, I would like to express my condolences to the victims and all the relatives of the victims of this terrible war which began in Ukraine. And secondly, I want to assure you and your listeners that Chechens are not involved to this war against the Ukrainians. However, when it comes to those who are standing in the ranks of the Russian armed forces that may include Chechens, Tatars, and even Ukrainians. These structures probably have also Chechens, we know that. But when we speak about those Chechens who are in these structures, first of all we must remember that they fought and they are fighting against their own people, against the Chechen people which defends its independence and statehood. In this reason, speaking about the origins who are involved in this conflict, is not quite correct. We must understand one thing that this conflict and the war dragged by Russia. And it is Russia which is waging this war with Ukraine. There are so any attempt to personalize it and giving it a character to these armed structures that are fighting against Ukraine and against the Ukrainian people, and consisted from some ethnic groups from the North Caucasus – Chechens, Ingushes, Ossetians – this is absolutely wrong. The Russian state and Russia led by their commander in chief Putin, and all the armed structures that are now rampant in Ukraine, they are the structural units of the Russian armed forces. It should be understood.
Saken Aymurzayev: Well, Ramzan Kadyrov talked about the accusations on the Chechen units. However, he said somehow different things. He said that none of them are from the Russian armed forces, but there can be many Chechens seperately, maybe they are doing something over there by themselves. But, we are not talking about a regular army, because officially, the Russian Federation’s regular troops are not in the Donetsk region. And we are talking about these armed Chechens who are seen in the streets, who are fighting next the seperatists in Donetsk and Lugansk.
Akhmed Zakayev: The fact that maybe you or the Ukrainian leadership is so convenient to comment; even I do not exclude that today it is convenient to the international community comment that this conflict does not have any Russian military units. Of course, this is not like so. They are there, they were there; and they are fighting and they will fight in this war as long as the international community does not state categorically their protest against the aggression of the Russian state against Ukraine. That is, in the first place what the international community must do on this issue, it will be helpful to the Ukrainian people and the Ukrainian leadership to focus precisely on the fact that Russia embarked on this war, Russia annexed the territory of Ukraine, in particular the Crimea. In this reason, I do not agree with those comments that only individual volunteers involved to conflict today. No. We must understand and accept the fact. Once Putin announced the withdrawal of Russian troops from the border, NATO said that yes, there is an observation that the withdrawal symptoms are seen, but just a few hours after the Russian military units crossed the Ukrainian border in Lugansk. And of course, they were not aliens, they were not little green men. As commented before, these are Russian military units that entered into the territory of Ukraine. And so you need to be completely objective and need to call things with their proper names. Russia went to war against Ukraine and Russia is waging this war. And in particular, if we talk about Chechens, Chechen population and our government which is now defending our independence in exile, we fully support the territorial integrity of Ukraine and support the Ukrainian people’s struggle for its sovereignty and statehood. And we stand in solidarity in all these questions with you.
Saken Aymurzayev: We are in a live broadcast with Akhmed Zakayev, Prime Minister of the Ichkeria government in exile. If you have 1 minute Akhmed Khalidovich, we will continue after a short break, I have a few more questions for you.
Saken Aymurzayev: We continue to our live broadcast. We have Akhmed Zakayev on phone. Akhmed Khalidovich Zakayev, Prime Minister of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria government in exile. Akhmed Khalidovich, I have a question initially. Here is an often used Russian propoganda, for example, while they face with those who doesn’t support the seperatism here in the east, they say that “look, you also supported the struggle of the Chechen people in the 1990s together with the liberal Russian intellectuals, so why aren’t you supporting the people of Donetsk?”. As a person who remembers and participated to the first and second war in Chechnya, can you explain the difference between the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria and the Donetsk People’s Republic?
Akhmed Zakayev: Sure. In the first place, we must start with the fact that the Chechen Republic has never been a part of the Russian Federation. And after the collapse of the Soviet Union, it was still in 1990, a law has been adopted by the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, which equalize the status of the autonomous Soviet republics. This status also collapsed the Soviet Union and at that time the Chechen Republic had the status of of a Union Republic. And on a par with Ukraine, Russia and other Soviet republics were ready to sign the agreement, a new agreement establishing a new, renewed Soviet Union. I all remember it exactly. And at the same time, we cannot tell that the Donetsk Republic or some sort of other republic whereas exist. It was an integral part of the Ukrainian state, and as in particular, the Crimea which Russia annexed today. Therefore, this kind of parallels with Donetsk and Chechnya, of course, they are totally inappropriate and unacceptable from the standpoint of legal rights. Because at that time, when Chechnya restored its statehood and found perfectly normal, equivalent relationship with the Russian Federation, signed a peace treaty in 1997, after the defeat of the Russian troops, this fact shows that Chechnya had already existed as an independent state, even though it had no diplomatic relations with other states. But these are different things – the establishment of diplomatic relations and the control and sovereignty of any territory which is able to ensure its independence in politics, the economy and in terms of defense, to protect their interests. And Chechnya in these matters met all these standards and has proven its worth as a state.
Saken Aymurzayev: Akhmed Khalidovich, do you remember that Ukrainians fought together with Chechens in 1990s?
Akhmed Zakayev: Yes, I know that there were volunteers from the Ukraine, but they were very few. But they were there in any case, along with people from the other republics, with other nationalities, with representatives of other nationalities. There were small groups from the North Caucasus and a few or a dozen people were from Ukraine. And today saying that the Chechens or the Chechen people opposed against Ukraine and the Ukrainian state – I assure you, this is absolutely untrue. Chechens strongly supports the sovereignty and independence of Ukraine. And Chechens are grateful to all Ukrainians and Ukrainian government for that they once sheltered Chechen asylum seekers who fled from the certain death, and found refuge in Ukraine, in Kiev and other Ukrainian cities. And we remember it, we do not forget and we will not forget it.
Saken Aymurzayev: And the last question will concern the Crimea. As an Islamic nation Crimean Tatars is going through such a tragedy. How do you respond? Are you ready to help the Crimean Tatar people in the struggle for their land?
Akhmed Zakayev: I think that first of all it is not a question of the Crimean Tatars but the Ukrainian state. And for the Ukrainian state, you see the international community and all international institutions that have stated unequivocally, they do not recognize the annexation of the territory, does not recognize the occupation of the territory and never acknowledge it as part of the Russian Federation. Therefore, in this issue the Tatars have a lot of supporters. And we, from our side, and as human, and as Muslims, of course, we sympathize and support the Ukrainian people, and in particular the Tatars in this matter. But I want to point out again that neither you nor anyone else shouldn’t try to expose this conflict as a religious matter, I mean in the Crimea. Despite the fact that the Crimean Tatars are Muslim by religion, but what happened there and how occupied Crimea, in principle, it was taken from the territory of Ukraine – it is not a religious issue. This question must be viewed in the plane of international law and principles. And so in any case I am not claiming that this conflict was attempted to given a religious character. And so, if we talk about a solidarity with the people of the Crimean and the Ukrainian leadership, as well as the Ukrainian people, yes, we are in solidarity with you, we fully support your struggle for your state, for your independence and integrity of your state.
Saken Aymurzayev: Akhmed Zakayev, Premier Minister of the Ichkeria government in exile, have you ever think when your exile will be end? I remember myself how many years you are in mission in abroad, and you can’t go for obvious reasons neither to Russia, nor even to the countries close to Russia. How do with this case? When will it all end?
Akhmed Zakayev: You know, this all will end at the same time like when the Ukrainian and Polish governments in exile would able to return their land and their territories. This happened after the collapse of the USSR. And our return, the return of those territories that are now occupied in Ukraine, in Moldova and in Georgia by Russia, these areas will be back to their rightful owners, or rather a reunite with the states from which Russia annexed by force. I think is due to these issues. When Russia will cease to exist as an imperial state, as an empire; when Russia is transformed into a completely different public education, and Russia itself primarily rid of imperial ambitions and become a civilized country, it will be then, perhaps, we can talk about our return and the return of those territories that it is occupied today.
Saken Aymurzayev: Thank you for the interview. I wish you all the best. Good bye!
Akhmed Zakayev: Yes, good bye, all the best!