In April 21, 1996, President Dudayev was killed, and Vice-President Yandarbiev assumed his interim powers. How did your relationship with him develop?
After the treasonous assassination of the President, I returned to Grozny and actively participated in the preparation of the new elections. I returned to my duties when President Yandarbiev accepted my condition that the Constitutional Court could begin its work only after the annulment of the unconstitutional decree concerning its dissolution in April 1993. This happened with the Decree from these promulgated on November 12, 1996, in which it was clarified that the dissolution order issued by Dudaev was to be considered devoid of any legal effect. At that point I started forming a new team of judges for the court, having to make up for the expressed refusal of some of the old members to collaborate with the new government, as well as the defections of others, who had left the territory of the Republic.
During his mandate, Yandarbiev initiated a series of legislative interventions aimed at establishing an Islamic republic, such as, for example, the creation of Sharia courts. Were these measures constitutionally correct? Has the Constitutional Court sanctioned them?
To take a specific decision on the introduction of Sharia courts, the Constitutional Court did not yet have the necessary quorum for a vote and the approval of the judges was and is the prerogative of the Parliament of the Chechen Republic, which during this period had not yet been renewed. Actions aimed at introducing Sharia courts directly contradict the Constitution of the Chechen Republic, which I have repeatedly expressed in the media and personally to Yandarbiev.
Following the January 1997 presidential elections, Aslan Maskhadov became president. How was your work under his tenure?
After the election of President and of the Parliament, I have actively collaborated with the institutions and have looked for candidates to complete the ranks of the Constitutional Court , and obtain their nomination by the Parliament. However I failed to complete this task, due to the situation in the Republic and the introduction of Sharia courts. However, as head of the highest judicial authority, I have actively participated in all legal activities of national importance.
By Presidential Decree of May 6 , 1996, I was appointed an expert in the process of negotiating and drafting documents on relations between the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria and the Russian Federation, and also headed the office of the State Legal Commission to develop and improve the constitutional principles , with the creation of a code of Islamic law CHRI. This order was presented to the President on May 20, 1997. This code of laws was personally prepared by me and delivered to President Maskhadov under the name ” Korta Nizam “, meaning “main consensus”: this project included the combination of Muslim and secular law, without radical deviations from the mentality and customs ( adat ) of the Chechen people, but taking into account the rules of conduct for a Muslim according to the Koran and the Sunnah of our Prophet (SAS). This law should have been voted on in a referendum and subsequently should have been adopted by the Parliament. If the Chechen people had approved this bill, after it was adopted by its legislative body, it would have acquired the status of Constitution as Basic Law of the country.However, once again, the crisis of the institutions has not allowed this to be discussed, and possibly integrated into the Fundamental Law of the State.
In addition to this, I was involved in the work as a member of the State Commission for the Development of the National Security Doctrine of the CRI, according to the Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of July 31, 1997. Basically, we worked on guarantees for the country’s national security and so that the invasion of our country would not be repeated over the decades. We have tried to establish ChRI in the world community as a subject of international law and find protection through international institutions. In addition, we have worked on consolidating our statehood through the Charter of the United Nations, which should be the document guaranteeing our security, both as a state and as a whole and as an ethnic group in communion with the whole civilized world. Constitutional Court member Seda Khalidova worked actively with me. In 1997 we met with the new Chairman of the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation M. Baglai and even prepared an agreement on the interaction of the two highest state judicial bodies. This draft agreement was not approved by the parties, for the well-known reasons we have already mentioned.
As the radical forces consolidated in the country, the possibility of creating an Islamic state was increasingly discussed. How could this idea fit into the 1992 Constitution?
In no way. The Constitution of the CRI and its norms are mandatory, i.e. mandatory, regardless of the situation, if changes to individual articles of the Constitution have not been made in accordance with the requirements of this Basic Law.
At the end of 1998, Maskhadov was tried by the Sharia court. Was this court constitutionally legal? Do you remember this process?
By that time I had left the republic and worked at the International Arbitration Tribunal, but as one of the authors of the 1992 Constitution of the Chechen Republic, I can state that such a decision grossly violates the requirements of the Constitution of the Chechen Republic!
How did your experience as President of the Constitutional Court ended?
I resigned in March 1998, after an unconstitutional vote of no confidence in the President of the Constitutional Court of the Chechen Republic, ie in me, for my position against the introduction of Sharia courts and the use of public executions. In the Parliament of the CRI on the second convocation there were deputies who had their own candidates for the post of President of the Tribunal and, frankly, had their own mercantile interests, which under my leadership they could not have realized. Moreover, the very discussion regarding the issue of mistrust of me is an unconstitutional process, if I have not committed a crime or if, for health reasons, I cannot fulfill my duties, or I have committed other actions contrary to the ideas of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the state, prescribed by the law “On the activities of the Constitutional Court of the Chechen Republic”, adopted in 1992.
This question was initiated by two deputies, one of whom, as it was later established, worked for the FSB of Russia. The second deputy brought his name into disrepute during the proceedings of the first convocation Parliament. Their names are known and they, being refugees in Europe, continue to harm the legitimate authorities of the CRI.
After the start of the Second Russo-Chechen War and Russia’s second invasion of the country, martial law was introduced in the CRI. Aslan Maskhadov’s mandate would have expired in February 2002, but he remained in office until his assassination in 2005. If you recall, what measure extended his mandate up to this point?
First of all, we must proceed from the fact that the President of the CRI, in accordance with the requirements of the Constitution of the CRI, declared martial law in connection with the invasion of the aggressor into the sovereign territory of the country.
Secondly, in connection with martial law and the purpose of centralized government, the chairman of the CRI, Aslan Maskhadov, issued a decree on October 5, 1999 on the introduction of martial law on the territory of the republic and the adoption of Annex No . 1 to it, according to which all state structures were subordinated to the established State Defense Committee (GKO), with the wording that ” all authorities stop their work of norm-setting “. Furthermore, the State Defense Committee, since martial law was declared, has been approved as ” the highest collegial body of state power…”. And with resolution no. 217, adopted at the same time, by decision of the GKO, the President of the CRI was endowed with additional powers corresponding to the highest legislative and executive power!
Thus, the chairman of the CRI, Aslan Maskhadov, as the commander-in-chief of the armed forces of the CRI and the head of the country’s State Defense Committee, during this wartime period could not and had no legal right to leave this post and remained in place until his treasonous assassination by Russian punishers.
After Maskhadov’s assassination, power passed to Vice President Abdul Khalim Sadulayev. Was such a transfer of power constitutionally acceptable?
Of course, and this right is enshrined in art. 75 of the Constitution of the Chechen Republic, which provides that in case of removal from office of the President or in other cases in which the President cannot perform his duties, the Vice-President is required to assume full powers.
After the assassination of Sadulaev , power passed to Dokku Umarov , who proclaimed himself President. There appear to be differences between the Maskhadov-Sadulayev succession and the Sadulayev- Umarov power . What do you think is the difference between these two phenomena?
I don’t see much difference, since CRI president Abdul- Khalim Sadulaev , by decree dated June 2, 2005, appointed Umarov Doku as Vice President of the CRI. As it was indicated above, the State Defense Committee is the only state authority for the period of martial law in the country, and such actions to transfer powers do not go beyond the legislation of the CRI, although they are of a temporary nature, until the end of war and the lifting of the state of emergency.
In October 2007, Umarov announced the dissolution of the CRI as part of the Caucasus Emirate. Is this process unconstitutional?
These actions grossly violate the requirements of the Constitution of the CRI and are criminally punishable as liquidation of the state system and its power structures!
A few months after the birth of the Caucasus Emirate, the current Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers, Akhmed Zakayev, was elected to his current position by still capable deputies. How did this nomination come about? Was it constitutionally correct?
This process can be explained at length and it is impossible to complete it in this interview due to its large volume in the description. There is my October 10, 2020 Expert Opinion [attached at the bottom of this interview, NDR], made at the request of the Council of Elders of Europe, which has done a great job of consolidating disparate structures, as each of them it is declared a legitimate authority in accordance with the Constitution of the CRI. During this period, I was not a member of any diaspora or power group, so I conducted a thorough analysis and evaluation of the requirements of the Constitution of the CRI, as one of its authors and a scientist in the field of jurisprudence, and concluded that the CRI government in exile is a legitimate state authority of the CRI.
Is it true that in 2002 all powers were transferred to the GKO and that so far the institutional power of the CRI derives from the decisions of this committee, now renamed the State Deoccupation Commitee?
Yes, it is this structure that continues to have the status of the only state authority of the CRI, as the successor to the State Defense Committee, represented by the State Deoccupation Commitee of the annexed territory by the Russian Armed Forces and their protégés.
From the point of view of constitutional law, can the current CRI authorities represented by the Cabinet of Ministers, chaired by Akhmed Zakaev , recognize themselves as legitimate?
Yes, and this does not contradict the requirements of the Constitution of the CRI, and proof of this is the fact that it was approved by the legal successor of the state power of the CRI – the State Deoccupation Commitee. A detailed analysis of the legitimacy of the Cabinet of Ministers of the CRI is contained in the opinion of 10.10.2020.