“Russia has never been a member of the UN” – Dr. Ikhvan Gerikhanov on Russia’s legitimacy in the Security Council

On Saturday 1 April, Russia assumed the presidency of the United Nations Security Council. As an aggressor country in the war in Ukraine, there are many questions about the role that Russia can have in supervising a body created to maintain international peace and security.

Francesco Benedetti interviewed the former President of the Constitutional Court of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, Ikhvan Gerikhanov, doctor of law and specialist in international law.

This interview begins many years before the invasion of Ukraine. And precisely in 1945, when the Charter of the United Nations was officially adopted…

We begin with a preamble, that is, with the history of the birth of this organization, designated as the United Nations Organization. Firstly, the UN was established after the end of the Second World War, to replace the League of Nations, and with the same aim of preventing future conflicts. In this sense, the UN is practically its legal successor. It is interesting to note that the initiative came mainly from the representatives of the military coalition which had fought against fascism. In the euphoria of victory, its organization was not discussed by anyone, since the primacy in the victorious war belonged to the USSR, the USA, Great Britain and France. The statute of the organization was drawn up between April and October 1944, before the capitulation of the fascist regime, and only China, the Soviet Union and the United States participated. I believe that the dictation of conditions was mainly elaborated by these last two states. From this point of view, it is easy to recognize impositions such as the right of veto, applicable by the so-called “permanent members of the Security Council”. In this very important body, the three signatories of the statute were determined as permanent members together with Great Britain and France. Finally, the Charter of the United Nations was proposed to another fifty states, who signed it on June 26 of the same year.

The system was very similar to the one with which the League of Nations had been established. In 1919, immediately after the end of the First World War, it was established to prevent new local and global conflicts. The initiators of this organization were the winners of that war. The UN, like the League of Nations before it, was formed to safeguard world peace.

The League of Nations

Article 23, Chapter V of the United Nations Charter reads: The Security Council should be composed of fifteen members of the United Nations. The Republic of China , the French Republic , the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America will be permanent members of the Security Council”. Where is the Russian Federation in this document?

The Charter of the United Nations, as I indicated above, was created and adopted in 1944, the USSR existed then, and it was the superpower that defeated fascism. Under Article 4 of the UN Charter there is a procedure for accepting new members. No one has ever changed it, or deleted it. According to this procedure, the admission of new members “is carried out by the General Assembly on the recommendation of the Security Council”. This procedure has been followed to date for 192 states, but not for the Russian Federation, as a subject of international law.

Therefore, proceeding from the UN Charter procedure, the Russian Federation cannot be a member of the United Nations, much less the Security Council as a permanent member. There is only one answer to your question : the Russian Federation is not included in the Charter of the United Nations, because its admission to the UN has not been discussed as required by the Charter, and its admission has never been accepted.

The day before the resignation of President MS Gorbachev, the USSR Ambassador Yu Vorontsov sent a letter to the UN Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar from the President of the RSFSR BN Yeltsin, which states: on joining the Union Soviet Socialist republics in the UN, including the Security Council and all other bodies and organizations of the UN system, continue from the Russian Federation (RSFSR) with the support of the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States. In this regard, I ask you to use the name “Russian Federation” in the United Nations instead of the name “Union of Soviet Socialist Republics”. The Russian Federation bears full responsibility for all rights and obligations of the USSR under the Charter of the United Nations, including financial obligations. Do you think this is “legal succession”?

I have already referred to the requirement of art. 4 of the UN Charter, adopted with the participation of the USSR, and this legal provision is no exception to any of the world powers. Succession is the transfer of rights and duties from the predecessor to the successor in an identical manner, with only the change of name. In our case, the “succession” arose through a violent change of state power and its membership was not discussed, as required by the UN Charter itself when accepting a new member into its composition. Russia is not the USSR, neither in status, nor in territory, nor in the content of its Constitution. And if we add to this the fact that the Russian Federation arose through the violent overthrow of the legitimate power of the USSR, it would be wrong to say that it is a subject of international law.

The letter you indicated, in accordance with the requirements of the UN Charter, should have been examined by the UN General Assembly and, based on the results of the vote, possibly accepted. Which was not done. Which means that the Russian Federation was an illegitimate member of the United Nations, if the rules of the organization are followed to the letter and in spirit.

Also the letter you mention was sent by a person. Even if this person was the President of the Federation, his intervention could not have resolved the matter by itself, without going through the relevant procedure. Going further, the letter refers to the RSFSR (Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic) and not to the Russian Federation.

Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin in Yalta (1945)

However, Yeltsin’s letter, sent by the then UN Secretary to the tables of the other members of the Security Council, was tacitly approved by all. Why, in your opinion?

I don’t know the real reason, but in my opinion everyone was satisfied with the collapse of a world power like the USSR and were glad that the main and most influential rival in world politics no longer exists on the world map. The UN members themselves should have put the matter to the UN General Assembly, especially to the members of the Security Council, noting that a new state had arisen and that the procedure for admitting a new member had to be followed at the UN. Not only was this issue not raised, but on the contrary, they granted the right to participate in UN meetings to a person not designated in their Charter, and even accepted from him the right of veto on questions of peace and war!

Moreover, against the background of the war in Ukraine which has lasted for more than a year, not a single state has deigned to raise the question of the legality of the stay of the Russian Federation in the UN and its permanent membership in the Security Council ! And this is based on the requirements of Article 2, Clause 4 of the Charter of the United Nations, where it is firmly stated that “all members of the United Nations shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or the political independence of any state, or any or in any other way inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations”.

As an academic lawyer and specialist in international law, I do not understand the position of 192 states of the world regarding the fact that a separate state can participate in the establishment of world order by unleashing wars and exclusively in its own interests. Here reside other interests: political, economic and territorial, which go against the fundamental principles and norms of international law. The UN has fulfilled its task and it is necessary to move to a new world order and with the creation of a different international structure, as was done with the transition from the League of Nations, which lasted 26 years, to the creation of the UN, which has been pursuing the fulfillment of its tasks for more than 78 years.

IV If the Russian Federation had been born “by exclusion”, ie as a consequence of the abandonment of the USSR by all the states that made it up except the RSFSR, would the succession of Russia to the Security Council have been legitimate?

Above, I partially mentioned the lack of legal basis for a succession of Russia! the USSR could not authorize Russia to succeed even from the League of Nations to the newly created UN structure, as the USSR was not a member of the League of Nations when the UN Charter was approved. Similarly, the forced seizure of power does not give rise to succession, rather it excludes this right on the basis of the modalities and means of this transfer of rights and obligations from the entitled party to the successor. On this occasion, many Russian diplomats and jurists deliberately keep silent about the fact that the USSR was expelled from the League of Nations on December 14, 1939 at the 20th session of the Assembly of the League of Nations in Geneva, due to the invasion of the sovereign state of Finland . By the way, even then the USSR was a permanent member of the Council of the League of Nations.

And now the answer to the question:

First, illegally considering itself the legal successor of the League of Nations, the USSR, as the winner of fascism, dictated the conditions for the creation of the UN Charter and practically imposed itself and the members of the anti-fascist coalition as permanent members of the Security Council. It is like in legal practice, when a legal structure is created, there must be a constituent assembly, whose organizers remain on a permanent basis. But this does not mean that by moving to a new legal structure such as the (UN) Association, they can violate the adopted Charter with impunity and sanctions cannot be applied to them. Secondly, we must not forget that the Russian Federation arose on the world map from the violent overthrow of state power of the USSR and has long violated the international obligations of the USSR and defiantly ignores the requirements of the UN Charter and the international obligations assumed by its predecessor, the USSR.

Logo of the Security Council of the UN

Professor Rein Mullerson , Professor and Chair of International Law at King’s College London, stated that the succession was legitimate, identifying three reasons : “Firstly, after the dissolution, Russia is [ sic ] still remains one of the most largest in the world geographically and demographically.Secondly, Soviet Russia after 1917 and especially the Soviet Union after 1922 was treated as a continuation of the same state that existed under the Russian Empire.These are objective factors to show that Russia is the continuation of the Soviet Union.The third reason that constitutes the subjective factor is the behavior of the state and the recognition of continuity by third states.” What do you think of this statement?

It is difficult for me to evaluate such a statement, although I am a professor . He confuses practice and opportunity with legal provisions, without which no legal structure, regardless of its status, can exist. No one disputes that Russia is a huge country and has incalculable wealth in its assets and human resources reach more than 150 million. However , from a legal point of view, the USSR cannot be considered a continuation of the Russian empire, as the tsarist autocracy was swept away by those who built the “new world” and destroyed the empire to its foundations. Thirdly, I do not see confirmation of the professor’s words that third states recognized the succession of Russia from the Soviet Union. If there is a claim , then there must be legal documents or justification for that claim. Any statement, if it is not empty talk, must be based on facts and documents relating to that succession. In addition to objective and subjective factors, there must be specific actions that comply with the legal provisions of the subject itself!

Journalist Mohamed Sid-Ahmed, on the other hand, noted that “one of the five powers enjoying veto prerogatives in the Security Council underwent a fundamental identity change. When the Soviet Union became Russia, its status changed from that of a superpower at the head of the communist camp to that of a society which aspires to join the capitalist world. Russia’s permanent membership of the Security Council is no longer taken for granted. The global ideological struggle that has dominated the international scene for so long is no more and the new realities need to be translated into a different set of global institutions.” What do you think of his words?

I agree with the journalist’s opinion that the organization itself, like the UN, should go out of business, as it does not monitor many violations of the Charter and world order. To be objective, the reaction to the outbreak of war in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and other states should have been the condemnation and exclusion of the United States from the UN as a guilty party. Thus, impunity gives rise to new conflicts, and the fundamental principle of the existence of world order is ignored as a solution of controversial issues exclusively by peaceful means. The UN silently observed the actions of the aggressor during the two Russian-Chechen wars and did not even condemn the military and financial assistance of the United States and other states for the total destruction of the Chechen people on the basis of nationality and ‘ethnicity. And today the UN cannot influence the continuation of Russia’s imperial policy and the violation of the territorial integrity of Ukraine. On the contrary, the UN gives the right to an officially recognized sponsor of terrorism to chair the Security Council! The UN must be reorganized and, taking into account the reality, transferred to a more serious and influential institution, which leverages the behavior of its members.

In the light of all this, does the existence of the veto right in the UN Security Council always make sense to you? Russia , for example, says a veto is necessary for “balanced and sustainable decisions”. However, Russia has used its veto on issues relating to conflicts in which it is directly involved, as have other permanent members. This directly violates Articles 27 and 52 of the United Nations Charter and paralyzes the United Nations system as a whole by undermining its purpose as set out in Article 1, and equally the purpose of the Security Council as set out in Articles 24 and 25. For example, at the outset of the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine draft resolution S/2022/155 condemning the invasion and rearticulating Ukrainian sovereignty was vetoed by the Russian Federation on 25 February 2022, while Russia was none other than the chairman of the Security Council, undermining the council’s capabilities regarding the situation.

The right of veto arose in ancient Rome, in the field of the legislative process, when the tribunes of the people could overrule the decision of the Senate. There is another procedure for imposing a veto – this is the refusal of the monarch or the president to sign a law adopted by the legislator. The procedure for vetoing decisions taken by the UN, in my opinion, is meaningless and should not be included in the system of legal methods and procedures of this collective organization. The UN as an international organization was created to establish world order and exclude any conflicts, both regional and international. According to the art. 2 of the Charter of the United Nations, the organization is founded “on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its members”. So what kind of equality can we talk about when only one country can impose a veto at its discretion, without disputes and discussions with other members of the organization. Where is the sovereign equality, when five members of the UN Security Council exist on a permanent basis, that is, they are not replaceable, and the other ten are temporary! Many articles of the UN Charter clearly contradict each other and sometimes are mutually exclusive. Therefore, it has long been necessary to replace this establishment with another international institution!

Logo of the League of Nations

After the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine , Ukrainian Ambassador to the UN Sergiy Kyslytsya and some members of the US Congress have called for the suspension or expulsion of Russia from the United Nations and its organs and the removal of its veto power, which violated Article 6 of the Charter. In your opinion, Russia should be expelled from the UN?

Russia is not legally a member of the United Nations, but actually participates in its work. Therefore, in practice, Russia should have pointed to the door from the United Nations building even during the first Russo-Chechen War, when my people’s right to self-determination was ignored, making use of the weapons of destruction of mass prohibited by international law. It had to be expelled due to the creation of filter camps on the territory of a sovereign republic, in which torture and humiliation of human dignity were carried out, when destruction of the environment and social sphere of Chechnya , monuments history and culture of his people. How it is that the founders of the UN Charter, represented by the USSR and the USA, did not provide for liability for violation of the Charter and the obligations undertaken, one can only guess – they were the first to begin to ignore and violate statutory obligations and law international!

In the Charter of the League of Nations, in article 16, it is provided that “if a member of the League resorts to war, contrary to the obligations …”, he is considered to have committed an act of war against all members of the League of Nations . I do not understand, as a lawyer, and as a person who has lived a long life, who is still preventing the adoption of a resolution on Russia’s actions against Ukraine today, why such an issue was not put to the vote before the General Assembly of United Nations, even under the current expulsion procedure from the UN and all its structures!

Therefore, I repeat once again that the UN as a structure designed to restore world order has exhausted itself and it is necessary to create a new structure with real levers of influence on the negative behavior of its members.

“About wars won and peaces lost” Francesco Benedetti interviews Aslanbek Dadaev (First Part)

One of the main difficulties encountered in reconstructing the history of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria is the lack of reliable historical sources. The destruction of all the main archives, and the seizure of those that have survived by the Russian authorities, means that anyone who approaches the study of this matter has to reconstruct the events day by day, as if assembling a jigsaw puzzle. For this reason the collection of the memories of the protagonists of this story is so important.

Aslanbek Dadaev is the last Chechen journalist to have worked for foreign media in Chechnya. Deputy director of Chechenpress , the independent Chechen news agency, from 1992 to 1995, collaborated with many international and Russian media such as WTN, CNN, Reuter, Al – Jazeera. From 2002 to 2020, he worked as a correspondent for the North Caucasian newsroom of Radio Liberty in the Caucasus. Awarded the David Burke Award by the US Global Media Agency “For taking enormous risks to cover the region and the Beslan tragedy”, he is the author of the documentary “Dada”. As of 2020 he lives in the UK.

Our conversation covered the entire history of ChRI, starting in 1990. Then, as if “the curse of the archives” was haunting us, the first part was lost. This time not because of the Russian bombs, but only because of our “technological seniority”. When I set about setting up the interview, the first snippet of conversation I came across was this joke:

“A Russian soldier returned from Chechnya and went to the hairdresser. He starts combing his hair and asks him to talk about the war in Chechnya. The soldier asks: “Why are you asking me to tell you about it?” The hairdresser replies: “When you talk about the war in Chechnya, your hair stands on end, and I can cut it easier!”


On April 21, Dudayev was killed. Do you remember how the Chechens reacted to the news of his death? What did they say in Grozny? And what did you think?

People were very sad and confused. However, due to the rumors that Dzhokhar was not killed, but hid on purpose so that the Russians could not find him, many calmed down. in the center of Grozny, in front of the presidential palace, independence supporters often held rallies, where one of the slogans was that Dzhokhar would return, things like that. Dzhokhar exuded some kind of strong energy, he calmed people with his mere existence. He knew how to approach the Chechens when he put himself below any Chechen, like his statement that every Chechen is a general and he is the million first. It seemed to come from the recent past of the Chechens, when our traditions were still strong and dignity was valued.

Dudayev ‘s death , Yandarbiev became acting president. What do you think about him? And what did ordinary people think?

Yandarbiev was an ardent patriot, and a supporter of the idea of independence. He didn’t have the resourcefulness needed by real politicians. He has never managed to win public opinion. He was against presidential elections (he believed they would divide Chechen society, which had managed to rally around the idea of independence), and wanted to keep his position as president. When his powers ended, he began actively handing out state awards. And so, in my opinion, he was one of the brightest patriots of Chechnya. And he was a good poet. Even now, in Chechnya, the current authorities don’t forbid his words about a song about his mother.

Aslanbek Dadaev at a Dudaev’s press conference

Do you think Yandarbiev and Dudayev had two different views on the state?

No, they had the same vision of independence. It’s just that at some point the Islamist radicals managed to win Yandarbiev to their side, and his activities went beyond the traditional struggle for independence of the Chechens.

August 6, 1996. Operation Jihad. What do you remember of those days?

I knew in advance about the date when the operation would start and stayed overnight in the center of Grozny. Early in the morning we heard the sounds of a firefight, and on stepping out onto the balcony we saw several of our soldiers under a large tree. They were waiting for a Russian helicopter to fly away, which hovered at a height above this place. It was a detachment of Brigadier General Khizir Khachukaev . I spent 3-4 days in this place, recording videos. With us, among other things, in that position was Sebastian Smith, who then worked for francepress .

At the end of August 1996, Chechnya was free again, but under very difficult conditions. Do you remember what life was like in Grozny at that time? What was the mood of the people? What did they expect from the end of the war?

Life in Chechnya at that time was difficult. However, even in those troubled times, people were much freer. Pro-independence demonstrations often took place in the center of Grozny. The flag of Ichkeria could be seen everywhere. The pro-Moscow authorities sat in fortified buildings lined with concrete blocks. I remember once we accompanied Andrei Babitsky to Moscow. We arrived at the airport and when we got out of the car seeing a Russian tank go by, Andrei ran up to it and shouted at the top of his lungs: ” Alahu Akbar!”. In response, the soldiers laughed and replied “Really Akbar!”. But they got scared and quickly left. In everyday life, people were in critical condition. Problems with water, electricity, work were serious. The pro-Moscow authorities understood that they were temporary…

From September 1996 to January 1997, a provisional government subordinate to Maskhadov operated in Chechnya. How did Chechnya experience during this period? Did you have the opportunity to collaborate with Maskhadov’s government or cover it as a journalist?

Little has changed at that time. The problems remained the same. The people had no money, but they got by as best they could. The main income of the common people was trading in the market. I have always been in contact with the representatives of the government of Ichkeria, even before the August 1996 operation. WTN often needed comments from them and I found them in different locations in the republic. Then, when the Chechens took over the republic, of course I often attended press conferences and other events with the participation of Aslan and others. They had no problems communicating with reporters.

How did you manage to contact Chechen army commanders during the war?

It wasn’t a problem for any reporter. It was enough to come, for example, to the village and anyone could tell you who was there and where he was. The late Kazbek Makhashev was a member of the Chechen government. He was hiding on the territory of an abandoned cattle farm in the village of Novye Atagi, on the roof. That’s where I interviewed him.

Let’s move on to the 1997 election. Do you think it helped that there were so many candidates? And that the anti-independence candidates have been excluded?

I think the electoral race and the election and the election of Maskhadov showed that we really wanted peace. I think Basayev had a higher “score”, but people still chose Maskhadov, yearning for peace and tranquility. Aslan was not a “war hawk” while Shamil, on the contrary, believed that it was necessary to arm oneself and not relax. There were no candidates against independence, because they themselves would not run and would not have any support.

Shamil Basayev tiene un comizio elettorale

Don’t you think it would have been better if Yandarbiev, Maskhadov and Basayev had agreed on a single candidate?

It would have been better, of course, but people would still have chosen Maskhadov. Yandarbiyev fell under the influence of Islamic radicals, Basayev only knew how to fight. when we won the first war, i began to realize that the real “war” was right in front of us and that we should be united even after the victory over the russians. And so, it turned out we won the war, but lost the peace.

Do you think Maskhadov and Basayev should have cooperated and not fought for power?

Yes. Of course I think. And many thought so. However, I understand why you ask. The fact is that in Chechnya, bombed by war and disoriented, this was impossible. We are democrats from birth, but the level of freedom in those years went off scale, the concepts of freedom and order got confused. Many have interpreted freedom as anarchy. However, if Shamil and Aslan were together, they could have tried to restore order. Again, both Shamil and Aslan knew about the deception of the Russians and understood that the war would not end there. We all understood that. Therefore, we have prepared.

So since January 1997 it was clear to you that the second war is just a matter of time?

It has been since the end of 1996, as the negotiations went. By that time the Chechens had already learned to think like their enemies.

“Invece della morte, la vita è venuta in questa casa” – Un estratto da “Silver Coin” di Ismail Akaev

Ismail Akaev è un giornalista e scrittore ceceno. I frequentatori di questo sito lo conoscono per il suo fondamentale contributo alla traduzione in lingua russa di “Libertà o Morte! Storia della Repubblica Cecena di Ichkeria”. Autore prolifico, la sua principale opera narrativa è il romanzo storico “Silver Coin”, che si presenta al suo pubblico con queste parole:

Questo non è un romanzo ordinario, ma piuttosto una storia giornalistica sull’amore, il dovere e l’onore. Se vuoi conoscere un’altra verità sulla guerra cecena e allo stesso tempo sentirne tutto il dolore, questo libro è per te. Una storia tragica e commovente su un insegnante di scuola… Su un padre e un figlio… “L’alba sanguina davanti ai nostri occhi. Il cielo bagna i cadaveri e la terra piange. Uccelli e animali: tutto brucia sotto il fuoco. Quanto fa male: un gemito mi taglia la schiena. Cosa dovrei fare? Non si può cambiare nulla …

Il libro è acquistabile qui:

Ismail Akaev – Silver Coin

La copertina di “Silver Coin”

Di seguito riportiamo un estratto:

“Quella sera il villaggio di montagna di Borzoy accolse Said con ansia e tristezza. I militanti che si erano ritirati dalla città si trasferirono sulle montagne e quindi qui si svolgevano intense operazioni militari. In alcuni punti sui sentieri di montagna innevati le loro ombre, avvolte in cappotti mimetici bianchi, lampeggiavano.

C’era allarme e spavento in montagna, e non solo in montagna. Qualcosa di inimmaginabile stava accadendo in tutta la repubblica. Non era una guerra, le guerre non funzionano così . In guerra due paesi con la stessa forza militare si combattono, e conoscono bene le ragioni del conflitto. Quello che stava succedendo in Cecenia era la distruzione di massa di un piccolo popolo da parte di un’enorme potenza nucleare. E il mondo intero guardava con indifferenza, come se dovesse essere così… Dopo aver letto gli appunti trovati nel nascondiglio di suo padre, Said era sicuro che nulla avrebbe mai turbato il suo cuore. Gli sembrò che quella notte avesse pianto tutte le lacrime e anestetizzato il suo cuore e la sua anima, ma ciò che stava accadendo intorno a lui diceva contrario. Le “operazioni di pulizia”, L’omicidio , il furto, sono diventati un luogo comune per i ceceni . Si rallegravano del ritrovamento del cadavere come un tesoro e la morte era percepita come ricompensa, l’importante era non finire nel campo di filtraggio e non diventare cibo per i cani. I federali hanno imparato da soli che i ceceni apprezzano allo stesso modo sia i vivi che i morti e hanno trovato un modo per guadagnarci sopra. Con la scusa di controllare i passaporti, individuavano le famiglie benestanti che sarebbero state in grado di pagare i soldi per riavere i loro cari. Rapire qualcuno non era un problema per loro. Del resto Shamanov aveva detto: “Un buon ceceno è un ceceno morto”.

A Chechen woman showing the passports of her missing sons during a gathering of women searching for arrested and missing male relatives in central Grozny.  Photo by Heidi Brander

Man mano si andò creando una mappa della morte: si annotava chi era sepolto dove per restituire il suo corpo ai parenti, in cambio di soldi. La vicina di Saipuddin, Zara, apparteneva ad una delle famiglie benestanti. Viveva con il suo unico figlio, Isa, nella vecchia casa paterna di suo marito, nel villaggio di Borzoy. Suo marito era stato ucciso durante la prima campagna militare, mentre lasciava la città assediata. Dopo la sua morte lei e Isa si trasferirono nel villaggio ancestrale di suo marito e si stabilirono qui. La vista della loro casa fu il motivo per cui Isa fu portato al campo di filtraggio. Zara non sapeva come fare. Parenti vicini e lontani, e perfino i compaesani accorsero in aiuto della vedova: tante persone si trovavano nella situazione di Zara, ma la sua tragedia sconvolse molti. Vagò per un anno, e per tutta la Cecenia, in cerca di suo figlio. I suoi occhi videro tanti cadaveri, spesso mutilati, col volto tumefatto. Zara continuò a cercare, sopportando l’odore nauseante dei cadaveri. Cercava il suo ragazzo, il suo unico legame al senso della vita, tra i vivi e tra i morti.


Insieme al cugino del marito Zara si diresse al luogo che le era stato indicato. Ad un certo punto incontrò i federali, i quali gli dissero che non era permesso procedere con la macchina oltre quel punto. Così lui rimase sulla strada e Zara, salita su un’auto militare, andò avanti insieme ai federali. Dopo aver viaggiato molto, Zara vide un’enorme buca. Le fu detto di scendere e identificare suo figlio, dopodiché i federali sarebbero scesi a prenderlo . Zara scese con cautela. I cadaveri erano sparpagliati alla rinfusa nella buca. Zara riconobbe immediatamente Isa. Lo riconobbe da una piccola voglia sulla fronte, e dal sorriso disegnato sulle sue labbra congelate. Il cadavere era fresco. A quanto sembrava, era stato tenuto nel campo per molto tempo ed è stato ucciso di recente. Stava per  gridare ai federali di averlo trovato, quando vide il mignolo della mano del cadavere accanto a quello di Isa che stava tremando. A Zara sembrò che l’avessero cosparsa di acqua bollente.

“Sei vivo?” – sussurrò con labbra tremanti. Il palmo sporco del ragazzo che strinse era caldo. Zara si rese conto che era vivo. A quanto pare era svenuto dopo il pestaggio e i federali lo avevano gettato nella fossa insieme ai cadaveri. Zara non ebbe il tempo pensare. Tutto quello che aveva passato quest’anno per arrivare al cadavere del suo giovane figlio le scorreva davanti agli occhi. Probabilmente i Borzoy si stavano già radunando per un funerale e si stavano preparando a scavare una fossa accanto alla tomba del padre di Isa. Nei suoi occhi apparve l’immagine di suo marito: cosa avrebbe fatto lui? Non importa, si sarebbe comportata come una madre, questa era la decisione giusta. Zara si è resa conto che suo figlio non poteva tornare indietro. Da qualche parte, in Cecenia, la madre di colui sulla cui mano si era appena mosso il mignolo non dormiva la notte. Se Allah le aveva lasciato una tale scelta, lei avrebbe scelto come sceglierebbe il cuore di una madre.

“Dirò loro che sei mio figlio, ti sto tirando fuori come se fossi morto. Non fare un fiato”, sussurrò. Zara guardò indietro. Si chinò sul cadavere di suo figlio e fece scorrere delicatamente la mano sul suo viso giovane, che non aveva avuto il tempo di ricoprirsi di barba. “Che Allah ti benedica, mio caro ragazzo, perdonami, devo lasciarti qui per salvare un’altra vita”.

–             “Sono pronta” Gridò Zara. Il soldato scese nella fossa.

–             Quale?

–             “Eccolo mio figlio”. Indicò Zara con mano tremante.

Caricando il ragazzo come un sacco in spalla, il soldato lasciò la fossa, seguito da Zara. Lo gettò a terra e un altro “Fed” colpì allo stomaco il “cadavere” con una pala. Zara urlò di orrore. Pensò il ragazzo si sarebbe contorto dal dolore.

–             “Vai avanti da sola. Portalo sulla strada”, disse il “Fed”. Salirono in macchina, chiudendo le portiere dietro di loro, e infilarono la canna di una pistola fuori dal finestrino. Zara se lo mise sulla spalla e camminò così per un po’, poi le gambe cedettero, e Zara cadde a terra con lui. Decise di trascinarlo come un sacco.

–             “Abbi pazienza figlio mio, ancora un po’ e raggiungeremo la macchina, va tutto bene… Ti porterò a Borzoy. Ti curerò… è così bello lì… L’aria fresca… Le montagne, il fiume. Tu sei forte e giovane e ti rimetterai presto in piedi. Assomigli persino a mio figlio. Andrà tutto bene, arriva la primavera… Tornerai da tua madre», borbottò Zara. In qualche modo raggiunse il ciglio della strada.

–             Dov’è Isa?

–             “Isa è rimasto lì”, rispose Zara con un sussurro, gli occhi sconvolti

–             “Cosa significa, Zara di cosa stai parlando?” chiese l’uomo, sorpreso.

–             “Isa è morto – sussurrò lei –  ma lui è vivo, ed io ho preso il vivo” Poi cadde a terra, priva di sensi.


Lungo la strada, Zara tornò in sé e si sedette sul sedile posteriore. Tenne la mano del ragazzo nella sua mano. Arrivarono a Borzoy. Aperto il cancello vi trovarono parenti, anziani e il teologo locale. Akhmed non sapeva cosa dire ai parenti. Fermò la macchina e appoggiò stancamente la testa sul volante.

–             “Racconterò tutto da sola”, disse lei.

Scese con sicurezza dall’auto e si avvicinò allo zio di suo marito, Abdulbek. “Vashi” gli disse “Sei il maggiore della nostra famiglia, ci consultiamo con te per tutto, quindi voglio solo dirti che… Non ho portato Isa. È rimasto lì tra i cadaveri. Quando sono sceso nella fossa, ho notato un ragazzo vivo tra i corpi, ho detto che era mio figlio e l’ho tirato fuori . Non so se ho fatto bene.”

Ci fu un ruggito di stupore tra la gente.

–             “Hai fatto come avrebbe dovuto fare qualsiasi madre cecena, sono orgoglioso di te figlia. Invece della morte, la vita è venuta in questa casa. Quindi è il volere di Allah . Alhamdulillah , Gloria ad Allah.”

–             “Dov’è?”

–             “Dobbiamo aiutarlo”

–             “Di chi è?”

Il ragazzo non era cosciente. Lo portarono in casa. Gli astanti lessero il Movlid ed eseguirono lo zikr in onore della memoria di Isa . E Zara iniziò a prendersi cura di colui a cui aveva salvato la vita.

A woman searches for the bodies of her missing family members in a mass grave. Photo by Heidi Brander

Said rimase scioccato da questa storia. Insieme a zio Saipula, aveva aiutato i vicini a prepararsi per il funerale: come tutti, anche lui si aspettava che Zara sarebbe arrivata presto e che avrebbero seppellito suo figlio. Lui avrebbe ricordato per sempre quel giorno, la triste immagine di Zara, avvolta in una sciarpa nera, che passava tra la folla delle persone per confessarsi.

Said si riscosse: ricordò la rivelazione di suo padre che aveva letto il giorno precedente. Quanto è grande il sacrificio del ceceno persone. Questa è l’intera risposta alla domanda sul perché per secoli, dopo tanti genocidi, questo popolo rinasce ancora, e ancora. Sentendosi colpevole per l’intera nazione, suo padre lascia il proprio figlio a una donna sconosciuta e poi, decenni dopo, una donna cecena abbandona il cadavere di suo figlio, porta fuori il figlio di qualcun altro, perché ogni vita cecena le è cara. L’ impresa compiuta di Zara sembrava ricordargli che il futuro appartiene al popolo ceceno, il cui amore per la vita e per la Patria è più forte di migliaia di morti. Così passavano i giorni sulle montagne cecene innevate dove, sostituendosi l’un l’altro come il giorno e la notte, la vita e la morte andavano mano nella mano.

President of Ukraine awarded the Order of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria “Honor of the Nation” and the Order of Dzhokhar Dudayev

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky received the highest state awards from the government of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria in exile – the Order of Honor of the Nation (Qoman Sij) and the Order named after Dzhokhar Dudayev.

The head of the Ukrainian state was honored for outstanding services and selfless deeds for the sake of freedom and democracy throughout the world and for personal services to the Chechen people.

“His political steadfastness and loyalty to his native country managed to mobilize the Ukrainian people in the face of the imminent threat of Russia’s secular enemy and bloodthirsty monsters who seized power by terrorist methods,” says the decree signed by the head of the government of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria in exile, Akhmed Zakayev, on 27 November last year.

The awards were personally presented to the Head of State by the head of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, Kyrylo Budanov.

The Order of Dzhokhar Dudayev is awarded to holders of the Order of Honor of the Nation. Chechen politicians Aslan Maskhadov and Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev, as well as Lithuanian statesman Vytautas Landsbergis were awarded this order.