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“I am grateful to the fate that made me meet the Chechens!” Francesco Benedetti interviews Alla Dudaeva

Alla Fyodorovna Dudayeva is the widow of the first President of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria. Dudaev’s life partner, she lived with him until his assassination, which occurred on April 21, 1996 by the Russian army. Despite being of Russian origin, Alla Dudaeva linked her personal destiny to the cause of Chechen independence, continuing after her husband’s death to plead the reasons for a free Chechnya. Among her qualities, her passion for drawing certainly stands out. For this reason, in addition to her words, we have collected and published, with her permission, her pictorial works. What follows, therefore, is a double story, in words and images: the story of a wife, a mother, an artist, a political activist, a woman united with Chechnya by love and destiny.

“Golden Ichkeria” – 1989

The death of Dzhokhar Dudayev has deprived the Chechens of both a human and a political point of reference. From your point of view, this may be even more true: has the loss of a person so important to you as a life partner, as a mother, and at the same time as a supporter of a free Chechnya, changed your existential point of view?

The entire Chechen people wept when they learned of Dzhokhar’s death, as well as the Muslim world. But not only Muslims: the whole world appreciated Dzhokhar’s life and work, the Chechen people’s resistance to Russian aggression, and dedicated dozens of streets, squares and cities in different countries to him. Dzhokhar showed how to “take cities” and in 3 days (March 7,8,9) the capital of Ichkeria was taken by Chechens. Russian military units and bases were surrounded, but the Chechens did not shoot at the Russians so that the planes could not bomb the attackers. This ingenious plan was conceived by Dzhokhar, and when journalists asked him “why did you leave Grozny?” He replied “We have shown the whole world how to take cities!” In exactly the same way, the invaders were surrounded three months after the death of Dzhokhar on August 6, 1996. It was called: “dying, embracing the enemy.” And it happened only thanks to the unparalleled courage and courage of the Chechen people. For the first time in the world, a small Chechen people defeated the huge Russian empire of evil and violence, which the whole world has been afraid of for decades!

And the people called it a miracle! This victory gave hope to all occupied peoples for their future liberation and breathed new strength into those who bowed and surrendered! A nation is invincible when it fights on its own land for its freedom, if it has such a leader! When the president and the people are one, they are invincible!

“Dzhokhar Dudaev” 1989

Has his death changed anything in you regarding the care of your family and regarding the idea of an independent Chechnya?

After the death of Dzhokhar, nothing has changed in me in relation to our family or in relation to the idea of the independence of Ichkeria. But my personal feeling changed, I could not imagine myself without Dzhokhar, it was as if I was unexpectedly hit in the chest. Then we were secretly taken to the second home of a brave and wise man, Dayan, and I sat by his body for three days. Dayan asked me not to mention that Dzhokhar was dead when I was at her house for dinner. He asked me to say that there was one wounded, but not that it was Dzhokhar. “My wife Leila” he said “She couldn’t bear it. He has a weak heart. No need to mourn it in front of them, there would be such a noise that everyone in the village would understand immediately. Instead we have to hide. After her words, I understood that there were still those who loved Dzhokhar, albeit weaker than me in health. And I learned to hide, even as my heart was torn apart by pain. Therefore, when it was necessary to declare Dzhokhar’s death on April 24 in front of journalists from all over the world, I learned to hide my tears and did not cry, I thought about hundreds of sick old women like Leila, what would happen to them when they heard the sad news. And about our enemies, how they would rejoice at Dzhokhar’s death … That’s why I decided to leave the doubt, to Dzhokhar’s enemies who feared him, that he might return.

That very night we snuck him out and buried him. And I witnessed such miracles, when Dzhokhar was raised and carried to the cemetery, that it seemed to me that I had new strength. We left at three in the morning. When we arrived at the cemetery it was still dark which was scary. There was a wall of fog. While the grave was being dug, I sat next to Dzhokhar’s body, behind the fence. And when they came for him and brought him, suddenly the fog cleared, pink-gold rays of the sun appeared, under which everything around shone. And in the blue sky above his grave, flocks of birds were circling, as if they had come to greet or meet him. And they sang!!! Most likely, the Almighty himself met him! I understood that Dzhokhar would not be in the grave, his soul was immediately taken to heaven!

When the Chechen people gathered all their strength and managed to defeat the huge Russian empire, many believed that Dzhokhar was alive and would certainly return. But our enemies have claimed that Dzhokhar, a symbol of independence, fled, leaving his people behind. And then I had to refute these dirty rumors and we made a documentary about the place of his death. In it, I detailed where he was, when it happened and from which side two rockets came, one after the other. The military prosecutor, Magomed Zhaniev, and our former representative in Moscow, Khamad Kurbanov, they died with him. They were immediately taken away by relatives and buried the next day. But many Chechens still didn’t believe me and so I had to write the book “Million First” which became a documentary about the birth, childhood, life and death of Dzhokhar Dudayev .

It was first published in Baku in 2002. Then in six other countries in different languages. By the way, immediately after the book was published, a video was mounted in Chechnya, someone spoke in my voice against the background of my photograph. “I apologize to the Chechen people, I am getting married. I searched for a long time and finally found someone similar to Dzhokhar, only the mustache is different.” This was done intentionally so that my book would not be believed, and some still think that I again married Dzhokhar, who in reality was allegedly wounded, secretly taken out of Chechnya, and then healed. Only many years later the Chechen people finally convinced themselves and stopped waiting for Dzhokhar.

“The immortal city of Grozny” 1995

After the liberation of Grozny in August, Chechnya found itself free, but in constant danger. From April 1996 to February 1997, Dzhokhar’s inheritance passed to Zelimkhan Yandarbiev. He was an old friend of your husband’s. What do you remember about him? What kind of person was he?

Zelimkhan Yandarbiev was a poet and leader of the Vainakh Democratic Party , one of the pioneers of Chechen People’s Freedom. He visited us in Tartu, Estonia and invited Dzhokhar to the first Congress. Dzhokhar made such a brilliant speech that he was elected chairman of the Chechen People’s Executive Committee. Zelimkhan was always next to Dzhokhar and supported him in everything. He was distinguished by great courage and loyalty to the idea of independence, and therefore Dzhokhar, after a series of unsuccessful attempts on his life, instructed him to replace him as president of the CRI in the event of his death. Zelimkhan’s courage can be judged by the famous video in which he did not surrender to President Yeltsin during peace talks in the Kremlin. And he insisted that he move to the place assigned to him, opposite Zelimkhan Yandarbiev. Because the war of 1994-1996 was with the Russian aggressor, who started the war with independent Ichkeria. This was not the “internal conflict” that the Russian media were talking about. And it was not about “restoring constitutional order on the territory of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria”, but about a full-scale war, during which the capital was burned to the ground by Russian bombs, the entire Chechen land was burned and mined ! Zelimkhan in 1997 held the election of a new president of the CRI, although he could have continued to hold office, but he wanted the Chechen people to choose their own president. Although then some blamed him for it. He has always been on the side of legality and democracy.

“Lost World” 1992

After the 1997 elections, the post of president of the republic passed to Aslan Maskhadov. What was your opinion of him? And how did this opinion change during your political tenure before the second Russian invasion?

Aslan Maskhadov inherited a country destroyed by the Russian-Chechen war and thousands wounded, tens of thousands of people without means of subsistence. Dzhokhar Dudayev forbade taking a ransom for captured Russians. But, immediately after his death on April 21, already in May, the oligarch Berezovsky bought out the Russian journalist Elena Masyuk from Chechen captivity for two million dollars. They returned her to the United States, and Bill Clinton, a friend of Yeltsin, solemnly awarded her a massive gold chain on her chest. All this was shown on television and marked the beginning of the hostage trade conducted by the FSK. They often took hostages from the families of wealthy businessmen to the border of the CRI and handed them over to the Chechens, and then divided the ransom through intermediaries, the main one being Berezovsky. The authorities could do nothing about the rampant crimes of the Russian special services. They killed 8 people from the International Red Cross, blaming the Chechens. And they cut off the heads of three foreigners who allegedly provided the republic with telephone communications with the whole world. They tried to show the Chechens as criminals and bandits to the whole world. In 1999, on Putin’s orders, they blew up two houses in Moscow and one in Volgodonsk, accused the Chechens of this crime and started the second Russo-Chechen war. The fate of Aslan Maskhadov was tragic, but he honorably fulfilled his duty and died as a result of a long guerrilla war. I think it was easier for him to live in a tent and fight in the forest alongside his faithful comrades than during his presidency.

“Allah Akhbar!” 1995

The main accusation leveled against Ichkeria between 1996 and 1999 is that it became an Islamic state and abandoned the path started by the 1992 Constitution and which Dzhokhar intended to maintain. What do you think about this topic?

Ichkeria hasn’t become an Islamic state over the years because it was ruled by President Aslan Maskhadov and had a parliament, but Foreign Minister Movladi Udugov created a two-story so-called “Wahhabi” center in the city of Grozny with security and behind a wall. People from Saudi Arabia came to him, who presented themselves to the Chechen people as the most correct Muslims. They stopped cars on the street and checked people’s IDs to see if relatives or women were traveling with unfamiliar men. To then punish them with whips, as well as for drunkenness. Udugov tried to install his emirs in each village to create parallel systems of state administration. In Urus-Martan, the only village not destroyed by bombing because its inhabitants did not take part in the resistance to Russian troops in the first Russo-Chechen war, a “Wahhabi” center was organized and hijabs were brought for women. In addition, small booklets with extracts from the Koran were brought, published in Moscow. There was a Jamaat school in Baku, where our wounded were taken in, and they were taught to pray differently, but they didn’t leave to react. They were subsidized by Moscow. But, I repeat, from 1992 to 1999, Ichkeria did not become an Islamic state and retained its constitution. Much later, already during the partisan war phase, in 2002, Aslan Maskhadov made a statement and changed the constitution by introducing an Islamic one, but only the parliament has the right to make such legislative decisions if there is a quorum and the modification of the constitution by all the people during a referendum.

“Highlander Amatsi” 2002

After Maskhadov’s death, Abdul- Khalim Sadulayev became the successor to the leadership of independent Ichkeria. He stated:

“With the beginning of the Second War, work continued on the drafting of the Constitution in full accordance with the norms of Islam, […] And now article 1 of the Constitution of the CRI accounting: “The Chechen Republic of Ichkeria is a sovereign and independent Islamic state of law, created as a result of the self-determination of the Chechen people. The sources of all decisions are the Koran and the Sunnah.” Thus, we have come to the logical conclusion of the legal reforms initiated by Dzhokhar Dudayev . Do you think these arguments are correct? What do you think about Sadulaev ?

Indeed, Abdul- Khalim Saidulaev , appointed by Maskhadov in case of his death, became Aslan Maskhadov’s successor. But, like Aslan Maskhadov, he was a partisan in the forest and did not have a parliament to change the constitution. Only the parliament has the ability to engage in legislative activities, and only the people have the right to decide such important issues as changing the constitution during a referendum on this issue. The president has the right only to sign the laws passed by the parliament or the decisions of the people during a referendum.

“Free Ichkeria” 2005

Do you think the Chechen diaspora in Europe and the West as a whole will be able to influence governments to intervene decisively in the rebirth of an independent Chechnya? What actions, in your opinion, should be taken by its representatives?

There are now 160,000 Russian troops in Ichkeria. As soon as the changes in Russia begin, the Russian troops left in a foreign country, surrounded by a foreign people, will slowly leave by themselves. Just as Kadyrov and his accomplices will run away, fearing a feud. Our activities, like all past years, took place in the information struggle with those who want to take advantage of the seizure of power in the republic to declare Sharia and themselves at the head of Sharia without the democratic choice of the people in accordance with our constitution. We are the only legitimate authority, the Presidium and its members have never proclaimed themselves illegal “prime ministers” or cabinet presidents. We were approved in our offices by the last president and we have continued our work. And we exist to organize democratic elections for new leaders who will undoubtedly appear among the Chechen people in the course of all these events. We must ensure the continuity of democratic power of the people. Only the people have the right to elect a leader and other structures. In recent years, many educated young Chechens have grown up, who studied at the best universities in Europe. Surely the most active of them will show up and be ready, on a competitive basis, not only to lead the republic, but also the cabinet of ministers.

“Wind of change” 2017

You, of Russian origin, could be represented, if you will allow me an analogy, as a tree with Russian roots and Chechen branches. How do you experience the relationship between these two identities, even after all that has happened?

I am very sorry that the Kremlin has started a war of annihilation with such an amazing people as the Chechens. In the first Russo-Chechen war, at the invitation of the government of Ichkeria, 250 Russian mothers came to Nazran for their captured sons, eighteen-year-old conscripts scattered throughout the republic, finding and taking their sons away from Chechen commanders. This went down in world history, for the first time such a small nation took pity on an army of conquerors and returned the captives without any ransom to their mothers. But, now, almost everyone who opposed the Russian Empire’s aggressive wars has either left Russia or been killed. The Russian people have changed and their army has turned into an army of looters and bandits. However, Russian generals are now taking criminals out of prisons and sending them to fight in Ukraine. And Russia itself evokes completely different feelings among all the peoples of our world. Therefore, everyone is waiting for this last empire of evil and violence to collapse and for its colonial peoples to free themselves and finally become masters of their own land and destiny. And I hope that with the help of Western countries, this will happen much faster than it could be with the Chechen people, who had almost no weapons to defend themselves, most of the machine guns were stolen from the Russian occupiers themselves. And yet he didn’t give up and led the resistance for decades. There were not even a million Chechens, now there are 46 million Ukrainians, and the whole world helps them with weapons and condemnation of Russia’s aggression.

During the war in Chechnya Western politicians declared non-interference in Russia’s internal affairs. Dzhokhar warned that the time might come when the West itself would become Russia’s internal affair. Lo and behold, this moment has come, his words have come true, and they finally woke up! Now Russia is recognized by the West as a terrorist state, although I would call it a terrorist state on an international scale! Because in addition to wars of conquest, it destroys all those who oppose it around the world: Alexander Litvinenko in London, Zelimkhan Yandarbiev in Qatar, Turkey, Austria, Germany, France… it is difficult to list all those killed by name and name the methods of their murder. The Russian government has to answer for its crimes in the same way as Nazi Germany did when the Nuremberg trials took place. Russia is waiting for Nuremberg 2. And I really hope that we will all witness this momentous event and the Russian Empire will sink into oblivion.

“I’ll never forget you” 1989

How did you live, as mother and wife of the late first president, between the first and second wars? I deliberately ask this question in a very general way. Then you can talk about whatever aspect or experience is most important to you.

Between the wars I lived, like most Chechens, in the belief that there would be no more war. People have restored destroyed houses, planted trees and gardens. Life went on. My kids were there and they too thought all the bad stuff was over. After the outbreak of the second war, when the Chechen people were undeservedly accused of blowing up houses in Moscow, everyone understood that this war would become revanchist. And Moscow’s revenge for the victory of the Chechen people in 1996. I had to leave Ichkeria and move to Ingushetia, then to Georgia, to Baku and, finally, to Istanbul. Our family, like many other Chechens, was forced into exile. Throughout Ichkeria, like mushrooms, Russian filtration fields multiplied, they became more than fifty. They were even in Stavropol, Minvody , Pyatigorsk . In them, tens of thousands of Chechens were tortured and killed. Some of the dying or corpses were sold to relatives for burial. It was a terrible time! The Chechen people paid for their desire to be free with their blood! But, in his soul, he has always remained unconquered, because from time immemorial he welcomed all those who entered his house saying: “be free”! And to this day this greeting remains in effect. I am grateful to fate for giving me the opportunity to get to know this proud and humane people, their customs and traditions. A people who would be admired and taken as an example by humanity if they knew it! And I thank Allah for giving me the opportunity to witness so many miracles that I would never have believed if I hadn’t seen them myself. The Chechen people are busy now, but this is only temporary, they have a bright future ahead of them, and new names and new heroes will certainly appear, about which we still do not know anything. After all, no country in the world has as many enthusiasts as the Chechens. People ready to give their lives for the freedom of the people!

I NEWS interviews Francesco Benedetti

A few days ago Francesco Benedetti met Inna Kurochkina in Florence. The interview that emerged takes up the speeches addressed in another chat, which took place more or less a year ago, shortly before Russia invaded Ukraine. In the course of this year many things have changed, Francis’ work has moved forward and with it his awareness of how important the history of Chechnya is for the West.

We reproduce the video of the interview, attaching the transcript in English.


First of all I would like to congratulate you from all visitors, subscribers who have already read your first volume. From today it is possible to have this second volume. How is it possible to have it?

First of all thanks to you, and thanks to all those who appreciated the first volume, and who gave me this consideration. The book is currently available in Italian, on Amazon, but will soon be available in English, thanks to the collaboration of Orts Akhmadov, son of Ilyas Akhmadov, who is working with me on the English version, and will soon also be available in Russian and Chechen, as for the first volume.

The other time we met and talked about your book was December 2021 and perhaps we were expecting war, this tragedy. Then we met in Brussels on the first day of the war, when both we and you met Akhmed Zakayev for the first time. With your help we attended some Radicali Italiani events, these very good people who organized Akhmed Zakayev’s visit to Italy, so somehow you are involved in our activities and in Ichkeria’s. How has your life changed during this year?

I have certainly had more real experiences with respect to this theme. I was a simple student of the history of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, but my experience was purely theoretical, abstract, not concrete, material. Since that day I have had the opportunity to speak with many people, and this second book is also written thanks to the memoirs of about a hundred people with whom I have spoken. Thus, my knowledge of that historical experience and of the human experience of the Chechens has grown enormously. From February to today I have given faces, names and lives to an experience that for me until then had only been theoretical.

You and I are working on the history of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, because I am also doing a cycle of chronicles. Do you understand the expression “in your skin”? How did you feel firsthand how the war was coming to Chechnya?

One of the questions I ask myself while studying the history of Chechnya, and in particular when studying this period, was “how would I have felt if I had found myself in that situation?” And I ask myself this question almost every day, because my study is based on the memories of the people I interview, and my interviews focus precisely on this aspect of every historical event: naturally I ask for information, names, dates, etc., but the first question I asked in almost every interview was “how did you feel at that moment?” “How did you spend the period between 26 November and 11 December (the time between the storming of Grozny by the pro-Russian opposition and the invasion). Personally, I try every day to imagine what the feelings of the people waiting for the war were, what they were thinking: their children, their families, how to save their families, how to save their things, their money, their cars, their homes. An event like this can completely destroy life, change people’s lives forever. I think I’m quite an empathic person, and I assure you that writing this book I suffered a lot. Like any author, I often re-read the book I’ve read, and every time I have the same feeling of tragedy on the one hand, and admiration on the other for those people who survived the war, in this case managing to win it, against their invaders .

I would like to understand how you frame the nature of the Chechen people. I was born in Georgia, I’m Ukrainian. I would like to work for the Georgian people, or for the Chechen people, but my whole heart now belongs to the Chechen people, I don’t know why. How could you describe your feeling towards the Chechen people? Because if you fell in love with this people, you did it because you have a passion in you.

I understand what you think because, when I think about it, what happened to me is really strange. I live in Tuscany, and I have no family, economic or any other connection with Chechnya. Yet ever since I was a child, something happened the first time I heard the name “Chechnya”. I don’t know exactly what, an elective affinity that has grown inside me, and I don’t know exactly why.

What I love about the Chechen people about this story is their ability to show happiness in tragedy. In them I have seen people who don’t want to be considered victims, but people who manage to find the beauty of life in everything. They have shown the world how to laugh in the face of death, and how to preserve humanity even in a situation which, if I imagine myself in their place, would strip humanity away from me as well. If a war destroyed my life maybe I’d go crazy. I have spoken to many people who have fought a war and have not gone mad, but rather have kept their kindness, their being good people. I don’t know if I would be able to keep these qualities in myself, fighting a war. I think this character trait of the Chechens is beautiful: the fact that they have managed to keep their happiness and will to live despite going through such bitter experiences.

Knowing this special character trait of this people, let’s think about how much Russia has gone to destroy them. It’s a biblical story for me. What do you think about it?

When a bully tries to hit a victim, and the victim smiles at him, the bully will become even more angry, but will ultimately be defeated by his victim’s resilience. In this sense I loved the struggle of the Chechens who showed the Russians that their spirit would never break.

In this last year we realized that the Ukrainians didn’t understand what the war in Chechnya was, just like the Russians they didn’t care about it. Now they have understood, and the Ukrainian parliament has recognized the independence, the state of occupation and the genocide of the Chechen people. What needs to happen for even Russian liberals to understand this tragedy? In their view of life there is no Chechen war and no Chechen tragedy, and of course there is no Ichkeria. What do you think?

I think Russian liberals are also part of the Russian empire. Maybe they want a “liberal empire”? Maybe it’s nonsense. I don’t think that in this sense there is much difference between the radical parties and the moderate or liberal ones. Everyone wants the same thing: to strengthen the empire, in one form or another. Maybe Russian liberals don’t want to fight the war in Ukraine, but they also don’t want to lose the integrity of their empire. I don’t see anything strange in this. I’m more used to studying and reading the news of another empire, the American one, and the liberals of the American empire are no less angry and aggressive than the nationalists. Citizens of an empire grow up thinking the only way to preserve the country is to stick together and squash any dissonant voices.

I was very surprised by your “hobby”. I’m going to show snippets from one of your band’s videos, which is called “Inner Code”. Tell me about this song about empire. I’m so surprised because you’re from Florence, we can’t relate the concept of “empire” with the city of Rome, which is so beautiful.

Rome in this song is the archetype of the empire. When we think of the Roman Empire we think of the empire by definition. The Russian Empire itself is inspired by the Roman Empire. The word “Tsar” is the translation of the Latin “Caesar”, the Kaiser of the German Empire is the Germanic translation of “Caesar”, and so on. “He will burn Rome” speaks of the fall of Rome, but by extension it speaks of the fall of all empires. No matter how big and strong, every empire will fall sooner or later. When I listen to this song I find a connection with the story we are talking about, being a story that can work with any empire, even the Russian one. However, I recommend listening to the song at a low volume!


Basically, everything we are talking about revolves around the word “Freedom”. You are a free person in all respects, as I see. Do you see the freedom of Ichkeria under attack? Do you think the imperial forces, the FSB , want to cancel this goal of freedom? We perceive these attacks, for example those that are being carried out against Akhmed Zakayev, a person who is a symbol of freedom of Ichkeria. Do you perceive these attacks from Italy?

I guess this behavior is consistent with the situation. I have an indirect perception of this, because unfortunately Italian newspapers don’t report much on what is happening in Chechnya or in the Chechen diaspora. However, having some contact with members of the Chechen diaspora due to my studies, I imagine that these people are talking about present and future plans to achieve independence and freedom for Chechnya and sometimes they do it in heated discussions, or getting angry. I speak as an Italian, I don’t think I have the right to tell the Chechens what they have to do. Only, seeing what is happening in the Chechen diaspora from the outside, I notice that there are “unresolved issues” and it is possible that the FSB , or anyone who does not want an independent Chechnya, could emphasize these divisions on the pro-independence front to weaken it. I hope people don’t fall into this trap. I don’t know if Chechnya’s independence is far or near, but it is important that at every step we find ourselves in the best condition to gather all our strength together to win freedom.

In recent months, also thanks to you and to the Italian Radicals (I am thinking of the meeting in Rome between Zakayev and Benedetto della Vedova, the speech to the Italian parliament, the recognition of Ichkeria by the Ukrainian parliament, the just finished speech by Zakayev at the European Parliament etc.) we have seen an evolution in the proposal of the government of Ichkeria. In Brussels, Zakayev presented a project for the reconstitution of the Republic of the Mountain, established in 1918 and dissolved by the Bolsheviks, and which Zviad Gamsakhurdia and Dzhokhar Dudaev at the time wanted to reconstitute in the 1990s. Now Zakayev is carrying out this idea, this project, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Inal Sharip has gone to Washington DC and is presenting it there. As a historian, do you think this project of the Mountain Republic is safer, more feasible than independent Chechnya? Do you think Chechnya alone could survive its monstrous neighbors?

I think creating a confederation is very difficult, but if it is led by a strong center, it can multiply the strength of every single member. If the confederation is a simple sum of subjects I don’t think it will last long. An example can be that of the European Union: a sum of countries, but its strength is not equivalent to the sum of the forces that compose it. Because each country defends its interests, and this is a problem because a state built like this cannot resist the forces of countries like the United States, Russia, China. The problem with our confederation is that we don’t have a center, a nation that holds all the others together. And every time one of the European nations takes supremacy, the others fight against it. So our European confederation is politically weak. If the Chechens want to lead a confederation they don’t have to do it like the Europeans did. If they are credible enough to attract other nations into a confederation of which they are the centre, not as an imperial centre, but as the place of those who believe most of all in this project, and who are ready to sacrifice themselves for it more than the others to keep everyone together, then I think this is a political project that can last. Like, for example, the United States, which is a confederacy that, after some major problems, has become the most powerful nation on earth. A confederation, therefore, can last, but you need a center that has the credibility and strength to hold all the others together, not by force but by setting an example. I think the Chechens have shown the world great examples more than once.

In 1997 Russia and Chechnya signed a peace treaty which was later betrayed. What do you think about the desire of the world community to persuade Ukraine to sign a similar treaty with Russia?

Looking at history, it is perfectly understood that the real value of documents depends on whether or not they reflect the real situation. In 1997 Russia signed a peace treaty, but while it was signing it was preparing its second invasion. In my opinion, if he now accepts a compromise with Russia, this compromise will in no case fix any situation, because I don’t think the Russians would be satisfied, and neither would the Ukrainians. I believe that a compromise now would only be a way of moving the war forward by three or four years. I believe that this is a moment in which it is necessary to solve a problem that was born in Chechnya. In a wonderful review by Adriano Sofri, an Italian who knows Chechnya well, and who wrote a wonderful article on this book, he says that what happened in Ukraine is a remake of what happened in Chechnya and Georgia, and that Ukraine is the end of a line that starts in Chechnya. It is time to break this line once and for all, otherwise we will have to add another point to this line in four or five years. As a European I reflect on the fact that this line does not go away from Europe, but from Chechnya towards Europe. The next point will be even closer to our home, not further away. I think Europe should think about this. If they don’t stop this process now, they will face it again even closer to home.

I NEWS intervista Francesco Benedetti

Alcuni giorni fa Francesco Benedetti ha incontrato a Firenze Inna Kurochkina di I NEWS. L’intervista che ne è uscita fuori riprende i discorsi affrontati in un’altra chiacchierata, svoltasi più o meno un anno fa, poco prima che la Russia invadesse l’Ucraina. Nel corso di questo anno molte cose sono cambiate, il lavoro di Francesco è andato avanti e con esso la sua consapevolezza di quanto sia importante per l’Occidente la storia della Cecenia.

Riproponiamo il video dell’intervista, allegandone la trascrizione in lingua italiana.


Prima di tutto vorrei congratularmi con te da parte di tutti i visitatori, gli abbonati che hanno già letto il tuo primo volume. Da oggi è possibile avere questo secondo volume. Com’è possibile averlo?

Prima di tutto grazie a te, e grazie a tutti coloro che hanno apprezzato il primo volume, e che mi hanno dato questa considerazione. Il libro in questo momento è disponibile in italiano, su Amazon, ma sarà presto disponibile in inglese, grazie alla collaborazione di Orts Akhmadov, figlio di Ilyas Akhmadov, che sta lavorando con me alla versione inglese, e presto sarà disponibile anche in lingua russa e cecena, come per il primo volume.

L’altra volta che ci siamo visti ed abbiamo parlato del tuo libro era il Dicembre del 2021 e forse ci aspettavamo la guerra, questa tragedia. Poi ci siamo incontrati a Bruxelles nel primo giorno della guerra, quando sia noi che tu incontrammo per la prima volta Akhmed Zakayev. Con il tuo aiuto partecipammo ad alcuni eventi di Radicali Italiani, queste ottime persone che organizzarono la visita di Akhmed Zakayev in Italia, quindi in qualche modo sei coinvolto nelle nostre attività ed in quelle di Ichkeria. Com’è cambiata la tua vita durante questo anno?

Sicuramente ho avuto esperienze più reali rispetto a questo tema. Ero un semplice studente della storia della Repubblica Cecena di Ichkeria, ma la mia esperienza era puramente teorica, astratta, non concreta, materiale. Da quel giorno ho avuto modo di parlare con molte persone, e questo secondo libro è scritto anche grazie alle memorie di circa un centinaio di persone con le quali ho parlato. Così, la mia conoscenza di quella esperienza storica e dell’esperienza umana dei ceceni è cresciuta enormemente. Da Febbraio ad oggi ho dato volti, nomi ed vite ad un’esperienza che per me fino ad allora era stata soltanto teoretica.

Io e te stiamo lavorando alla storia della Repubblica Cecena di Ichkeria, perché anch’io sto facendo un ciclo di cronache. Capisci l’espressione “nella tua pelle”? Come hai sentito sulla tua pelle come la guerra stesse arrivando in Cecenia?

Una delle domande che mi faccio studiando la storia della Cecenia, e in particolare studiando questo periodo è stata proprio “come mi sarei sentito se mi fossi trovato in quella situazione?” E mi faccio questa domanda quasi tutti i giorni, perché il mio studio si basa sulle memorie delle persone che intervisto, e le mie interviste si focalizzano proprio si questo aspetto di ogni evento storico: naturalmente chiedo informazioni, nomi, date eccetera, ma la prima domanda che ho fatto in quasi tutte le interviste è stata “come ti sentivi in quel momento?” “Come passasti il periodo tra il 26 Novembre e l’11 Dicembre (il lasso di tempo tra l’assalto a Grozny da parte dell’opposizione filorussa e l’invasione). Personalmente provo ogni giorno ad immaginarmi quali fossero i sentimenti delle persone che aspettavano la guerra, cosa pensavano: i loro figli, le loro famiglie, come mettere in salvo le loro famiglie, come mettere in salvo le loro cose, i loro soldi, le loro auto, le loro case. Un evento come questo può distruggere completamente la vita, cambia per sempre la vita della gente. Credo di essere una persona abbastanza empatica, e ti assicuro che scrivendo questo libro ho sofferto molto. Come ogni autore rileggo molto spesso il libro che ho letto, ed ogni volta ho la stessa sensazione da una parte di tragedia, dall’altra di ammirazione per quelle persone che sono sopravvissute alla guerra, in questo caso riuscendo a vincerla, contro i loro invasori.

Vorrei comprendere come inquadri la natura del popolo ceceno. Io sono nata in Georgia, sono ucraina. Vorrei lavorare per il popolo georgiano, o per quello ceceno, ma tutto il mio cuore ora appartiene al popolo ceceno, non so perché. Come potresti descrivere il tuo sentimento verso il popolo ceceno? Perché se ti sei innamorato per questo popolo, lo hai fatto perché hai in te una passione.

Capisco quello che pensi perché, se ci penso, è veramente strano ciò che mi è capitato. Vivo in Toscana, e non ho alcun collegamento familiare, economico o di qualsiasi altro genere con la Cecenia. Eppure fin da quando ero bambino, la prima volta in cui ho ascoltato il nome “Cecenia” è successo qualcosa. Non so cosa precisamente, un’affinità elettiva che è cresciuta dentro di me, e non so precisamente perché.

Ciò che amo del popolo ceceno, riguardo a questa storia, è la sua capacità di mostrare la felicità nella tragedia. In loro ho visto persone che non vogliono essere considerate vittime, ma persone che riescono a trovare la bellezza della vita in ogni cosa. Loro hanno mostrato al mondo come si ride di fronte alla morte, e come si conserva l’umanità anche in una situazione che, se mi immagino di essere al loro posto, strapperebbe via l’umanità anche da me. Se una guerra distruggesse la mia vita forse diventerei pazzo. Ho parlato con molte persone che hanno combattuto una guerra e non sono impazzite, ma anzi hanno conservato la loro gentilezza, il loro essere persone buone. Non so se sarei in grado di conservare in me queste qualità, combattendo una guerra. Penso che questo tratto caratteriale dei ceceni sia bellissimo: il fatto che siano riusciti a conservare felicità e voglia di vivere nonostante abbiano dovuto affrontare esperienze così amare.

Conoscendo questo tratto caratteriale speciale di questo popolo, pensiamo a quanto la Russia si sia impegnata a distruggerli. E’ una storia biblica per me. Tu che ne pensi?

Quando un bullo prova a picchiare una vittima, e questa gli sorride, il bullo diventerà ancora più rabbioso, ma alla fine sarà sconfitto dalla resilienza della sua vittima. In questo senso ho amato la lotta dei ceceni, i quali hanno mostrato ai russi che il loro spirito non si sarebbe mai spezzato.

In quest’ultimo anno ci siamo resi conto che gli ucraini non avevano capito cosa fosse stata la guerra in Cecenia, perché esattamente come i russi non se ne erano preoccupati. Adesso hanno capito, ed il parlamento ucraino ha riconosciuto l’indipendenza, lo stato di occupazione ed il genocidio del popolo ceceno. Cosa deve succedere perché anche i liberali russi capiscano questa tragedia? Nella loro visione della vita non c’è nessuna guerra cecena e nessuna tragedia cecena, e ovviamente non c’è nessuna Ichkeria. Cosa ne pensi?

Penso che i liberali russi siano anche loro parte dell’impero russo. Forse vogliono un “impero liberale”? Forse è un non – senso. Non credo che in questo senso ci sia tanta differenza tra i partiti radicali e quelli moderati, o liberali. Tutti vogliono la stessa cosa: rafforzare l’impero, in una forma o nell’altra. Forse i liberali russi, non vogliono combattere la guerra in Ucraina, ma non vogliono neanche perdere l’integrità del loro impero. Non vedo niente di strano in questo. Sono più abituato a studiare ed a leggere le notizie di un altro impero, quello americano, ed i liberali dell’impero americano non sono meno arrabbiati ed aggressivi rispetto ai nazionalisti. I cittadini di un impero crescono pensando che l’unico modo per preservare il paese sia tenero unito e schiacciare ogni voce dissonante.

Sono stata molto sorpresa dal tuo “hobby”. Mostrerò dei pezzi di uno dei video della tua band, che si chiama “Inner Code”. Parlami di questa canzone che parla dell’impero. Sono così sorpresa perché sei di Firenze, noi non riusciamo a mettere in relazione il concetto di “impero” con la città di Roma,  che è così bella.

Roma in questa canzone è l’archetipo dell’impero. Quando pensiamo all’impero romano pensiamo all’impero per definizione. Lo stesso impero russo si ispira all’impero romano. La parola “Zar” è la traduzione del latino “Caesar”, il Kaiser dell’impero tedesco è la traduzione germanica di “Caesar”, e così via. “Brucerà Roma” parla della caduta di Roma, ma per estensione parla della caduta di tutti gli imperi. Per quanto grande e forte, ogni impero prima o poi cadrà. Quando ascolto questa canzone trovo un collegamento con la storia di cui stiamo parlando, essendo una storia che può funzionare con qualsiasi impero, anche per quello russo. Consiglio comunque di ascoltare la canzone a volume basso!


Fondamentalmente, tutto ciò di cui stiamo parlando gira intorno alla parola “Libertà”. Tu sei una persona libera sotto tutti i punti di vista, come vedo. Vedi la libertà di Ichkeria sotto attacco? Pensi che le forze imperiali, l’Fsb, vogliano cancellare questo obiettivo di libertà? Noi percepiamo questi attacchi, per esempio quelli che stanno venendo portati contro Akhmed Zakayev, una persona che è un simbolo della libertà di Ichkeria. Percepisci questi attacchi dall’Italia?

Immagino che questo comportamento sia coerente con la situazione. Ho una percezione indiretta di questo, perché sfortunatamente i giornali italiani non raccontano molto ciò che succede in Cecenia o nella diaspora cecena. Tuttavia avendo alcuni contatti con i membri della diaspora cecena per via dei miei studi, immagino che queste persone stiano parlando di progetti  presenti e futuri per raggiungere l’indipendenza e la libertà della Cecenia e che talvolta lo facciano discutendo animatamente, o arrabbiandosi. Parlo da italiano, non penso di avere il diritto di dire ai ceceni ciò che devono fare. Solo, vedendo da fuori ciò che succede nella diaspora cecena, noto che ci sono delle “questioni irrisolte” ed è possibile che l’Fsb, o chiunque non voglia una Cecenia indipendente possa enfatizzare queste divisioni del fronte indipendentista per indebolirlo. Spero che le persone non cadano in questa trappola. Non so se l’indipendenza della Cecenia è lontana o vicina, ma è importante che ad ogni passo ci si trovi nella migliore condizione per raccogliere insieme tutte le forze per conquistare la libertà.

Negli ultimi mesi, anche grazie a te ed ai Radicali Italiani (penso all’incontro a Roma tra Zakayev e Benedetto della Vedova, al discorso al parlamento italiano, al riconoscimento di Ichkeria da parte del parlamento ucraino, all’appena terminato intervento di Zakayev al parlamento europeo ecc..) abbiamo visto un’evoluzione nella proposta del governo di Ichkeria. A Bruxelles Zakayev ha presentato un progetto di ricostituzione della Repubblica della Montagna, costituita nel 1918 e dissolta dai Bolscevichi, e che a suo tempo Zviad Gamsakhurdia e Dzhokhar Dudaev volevano ricostituire negli anni ’90.  Adesso Zakayev sta portando avanti quest’idea, questo progetto, ed il Ministro degli Affari Esteri, Inal Sharip è andato a Washington DC e lo sta presentando là. Da storico, pensi che questo progetto della Repubblica della Montagna sia più sicuro, più realizzabile rispetto alla Cecenia indipendente? Pensi che da sola la Cecenia riuscirebbe a sopravvivere ai suoi vicini così “mostruosi”?

Penso che creare una confederazione sia molto difficile, ma se questa è guidata da un centro forte, può moltiplicare la forza di ogni suo singolo membro. Se la confederazione è una semplice somma di soggetti non credo che durerà a lungo. Un esempio può essere quello dell’Unione Europea: una somma di paesi, ma la sua forza non è equivalente alla somma delle forze che la compongono. Perché ogni paese difende i suoi interessi, e questo è un problema perché uno stato costruito in questo modo non può resistere a forze di paesi come Stati Uniti, Russia, Cina. Il problema della nostra confederazione  è che non abbiamo un centro, una nazione che tiene unite tutte le altre. E ogni volta che una delle nazioni europee prende la supremazia le altre la combattono. Così la nostra confederazione europea è politicamente debole. Se i ceceni vogliono guidare una confederazione non devono farlo come lo hanno fatto gli europei. Se saranno abbastanza credibili da attrarre le altre nazioni in una confederazione della quale loro siano il centro, non come un centro imperiale, ma come il luogo di coloro che credono più di tutti gli altri a questo progetto,  e che per questo sono pronti a sacrificarsi più degli altri per tenere tutti insieme, allora credo che questo sia un progetto politico che può durare. Come, per esempio, gli Stati Uniti, i quali sono una confederazione che, dopo alcuni grossi problemi, è diventata la più potente nazione della terra. Una confederazione, quindi, può durare, ma ti serve un centro che abbia la credibilità e la forza per tenere insieme tutti gli altri, non con la forza ma dando l’esempio. Penso che i ceceni abbiano mostrato più di una volta al mondo grandi esempi.

Nel 1997 Russia e Cecenia firmarono un trattato di pace che poi fu tradito. Cosa pensi del desiderio da parte della comunità mondiale di convincere l’Ucraina a firmare un trattato simile con la Russia?

Guardando alla storia si capisce perfettamente che il reale valore dei documenti dipende dal fatto che questi riflettano o meno la situazione reale. Nel 1997 la Russia firmò un trattato di pace, ma mentre lo firmava stava preparando la seconda invasione. Secondo me se adesso accettasse un compromesso con la Russia, questo compromesso in nessun caso potrebbe sistemare alcuna situazione, perché non credo che i russi sarebbero soddisfatti, e neanche gli ucraini lo sarebbero. Credo che adesso un compromesso sarebbe soltanto un modo per spostare in avanti la guerra di tre o quattro anni. Credo che questo sia un momento nel quale è necessario risolvere un problema che è nato proprio in Cecenia. In una bellissima recensione di Adriano Sofri, un italiano che conosce bene la Cecenia, e che ha scritto un bellissimo articolo su questo libro, lui dice che quello che è successo in Ucraina è un remake di quello che è successo in Cecenia e in Georgia, e che l’Ucraina è la fine di una linea che inizia in Cecenia. E’ il momento di interrompere questa linea una volta per tutte, altrimenti dovremo aggiungere un altro punto a questa linea, tra quattro o cinque anni. Come europeo rifletto sul fatto che questa linea non si dirige lontano dall’Europa, ma dalla Cecenia verso l’Europa. Il punto successivo sarà ancora più vicino a casa nostra, non più lontano. Credo che l’Europa dovrebbe pensare a questo. Se non interrompono questo processo adesso, lo affronteranno di nuovo ancora più vicino a casa.

Memories of Budennovsk: Francesco Benedetti interviews Ikhvan Gerikhanov

Mr. Gerikhanov , your intervention in the Budennovsk hostage crisis begins on the evening of June 15, 1995, when you reach the city hospital, occupied by Basayev’s men, with the intention of starting negotiations. The task had been assigned to her by the Minister for Nationalities of the Russian Federation, Mikhailov. Do you remember how you responded to his request? Were you able to communicate with ChRI authorities from the time you were called to the hospital until you entered the hospital?

That’s essentially how it went. As chairman of the Constitutional Court , I had no contact with the leadership of the Chechen Republic, and was busy reporting on the war crimes that were taking place on the territory of our republic. I have personally held dozens of international conferences and roundtables, in which I have called for the intervention of the world community to stop the destruction of the Chechen people as an ethnic group!

At the time I was in Moscow, as an expert in the session of the International Tribunal for war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Chechen Republic, headed by State Duma Deputy Galina Starovoitova, later killed due to her civil engagement on the events in Chechnya. While I was at work, I was approached by one of my compatriots who held a responsible position in the presidential administration of the Russian Federation. He was looking for me at the request of the Minister for Nationalities, Mikhailov, who asked for my assistance in freeing the hostages held in Budennovsk. Naturally, I accepted the assignment, aware of the moral responsibility I had for these facts, as a senior official of the republic.

First of all, I interpreted my mission as that of allowing the hostages to understand the reason for this armed incursion, and to explain to them that they were not “militants”, as reported by all the world’s media, but defenders of their homeland.

Two or three days after I received the request, I was on a plane bound for Grozny, on which was also a delegation from the Russian Liberal Democratic Party, headed by Zhirinovsky. We had no contact with them, but the departure of the plane from Moscow was delayed for several hours.

Ikhvan Gerikhanov waits in front of an entrance to the Budennovsk hospital manned by one of Basayev’s men

Together with her were other Chechen officials. Who were they? And why did you choose them?

With me . were Paskushev and D. Khangoshvili . The second is a Georgian Chechen. Neither was an official of the state structure of the republic. I didn’t choose them, we just happened to be together. In fact I was not the head of the delegation. The other two simply knew my position among the authorities of the republic, and they recognized me as a sort of “primacy” in relation to the responsibility of my work. Unfortunately Khangoshvili passed away a week ago. Paskushev remained at headquarters in the Ministry of Internal Affairs building to ensure our safety.

I take this opportunity to express my special gratitude to my comrades for their courage and perseverance in these events. We were exposed to mortal danger of being shot in the rear by the Russian army, or by a sniper, or of being shot by our own if the military’s provocations ended with the assault on the hospital.

Did you personally know Basayev before Budennovsk? What opinion did you have of him? And how has it changed after the seizure of the hospital?

Before these events I had never had personal contact with him, as a Member of Parliament on first call and President of the Constitutional Court I was busy with my duties.

My opinion on this raid is still ambiguous today, I am against violence against civilians, although dozens of times we Chechens have seen how Russian troops put groups of civilians in front of them and went on the attack. But war is war , there are no rules of engagement and no one chooses the methods. This was mutually evident when civilians were killed by carpet bombing on the territory of the republic and filter camps were set up, where ordinary civilians, both women and men, were tortured, raped and killed.

The indifference of the absolute majority of Russian citizens and the world community gave the following result: our soldiers were forced to attract everyone’s attention in this way, to stop the destruction of the Chechens on a national basis. By the way, to this day the participants of Basayev’s raid are “found guilty” and sentenced to the maximum sentence, while not a single officer or soldier of the Russian army, except for the freak and rapist Budanov, has been held responsible for the criminal acts made on the territory of our republic.

This raid, with its pitiable innocent victims, produced results: the war was stopped and the Khasavyurt Accords on the cessation of hostilities and the beginning of peace negotiations were signed.

After landing in Budennovsk and reaching the hospital, you made contact with the Chechen units barricaded in the facility. Your first request to talk to Basayev, however, was turned down. Aslambek Ismailov, clarified that there would be no negotiations. Why do you think Basayev reacted so harshly? Didn’t he recognize you as a senior ChRI official? And speaking of Ismailov, did you know him before the Budennovsk events?

Before our arrival in Budennovsk, Basayev made it clear to everyone that there would be no negotiations before the withdrawal of the Russian army from the territory of our republic and that negotiations with Dudayev for the recognition of independence should begin. To all delegations, including one composed of Basayev’s relatives, he made it clear that he would not speak to anyone, and that any attempt to force the situation would lead to the death of the hostages.

After arriving at the Headquarters, headed by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Egorov, I informed everyone about the purpose of my visit and after long discussions I called the hospital directly to explain that my intention was to visit the building where the hostages were being held. Since it was night, I resolved to enter the building the next morning. Ismailov, Basayev’s deputy, answered me. I had never met him before. He knew me, he knew I was a high official of the republic. He promised to tell Basayev what I was proposing, and to give me an answer within a few hours.

To get an affirmative answer, I had to declare that I was willing to remain inside the hospital together with the hostages and Basayev’s men if my efforts to resolve the crisis were unsuccessful.

June 18 , you finally managed to enter the hospital, leading two different groups inside the facility and starting negotiations to open an exit corridor for Basayev’s men, in exchange for the release of a certain number of hostages. How did these negotiations take place? Why do you think Basayev changed his attitude towards you?

My first contact was on June 16 , when Khangoshvili and Ismailov met at the hospital entrance. Before our arrival a sniper had shot one of Basayev’s men, and his corpse was still lying in plain sight, covered in blood, at a distance of 1.5 – 2 meters. To avoid risking the same end, we met on the entrance stairway, sheltered from snipers. After a short conversation with Ismailov, we parted. On the same day he contacted the General Headquarters informing those present that Basayev was available to meet the President of the Constitutional Court of the Chechen Republic.

Women and children hostages are freed during the negotiations.

What situation did you find in the hospital? Do you remember the conditions of the hostages and militants during your stay in the facility?

The situation was very tense, there were many women and children, some wounded, mothers who had just given birth. With respect to this, the Russian media presented a distorted version of reality: with the exception of military pilots and police officers, the hostages were shown respect and care, relative to the conditions in which they found themselves. The hostages themselves had spread white scarves and sheets outside the windows to prevent an assault by the Russian army. I saw a woman, a doctor from the hospital, slap a police lieutenant general who was saying that Basayev’s team was putting women and children against the windows!

Khangoshvili and I have been to the hospital 5-6 times until June 18th , and each time we came back with several children, who we returned to their mothers. They persuaded me to take the children with me, referring to the fact that Basayev would not object and that the children would be saved. On our next visit, we heard the voices of the women talking to each other saying that there was a “mustachioed prosecutor” and that another group of children needed to be rounded up.

According to press reports, it was you who developed the text of the agreement that led to the resolution of the crisis. Do you remember the genesis of this document? Were there discussions about what should be written on it? Do you keep a copy of this document?

Yes, I wrote that text. At the first meeting with Basayev he recognized my rank as an official, but said that he was accountable to his command, and that without the approval of his bosses he would not take any decision. Basayev insisted that the withdrawal of Russian troops from Chechnya and the republic’s independence could not be negotiated. His detachment would not have left if these two conditions were not met. If necessary they would all have sacrificed their lives for this. I had to talk to all the members of Basayev’s team to explain to them that at this stage of the conflict, fulfilling both conditions would be impossible, even with the sacrifice of all Chechens on earth.

In the end, thanks to the help of the witnesses I brought, and the arguments of my reasoning, I managed to persuade Basayev that the withdrawal of troops and the opening of negotiations would be real steps towards ending the war and recognizing Chechen sovereignty . After another visit to the hospital on June 17 , Basayev finally declared that he was ready to open a dialogue on this basis, and asked me to draft a document. To the above conditions he added the request for a guarantee of safety for his men, so that they could return to Chechnya without incident. Finally, he reminded me that, as a Chechen, I would answer to the people and to Allah if the Russian military and political leadership did not abide by the agreements.

The text was signed by responsible persons. I was asked to sign as head of the Chechen delegation, but I refused because I was a state official. However, having to identify a guarantor among the Chechens, I asked Kanghoshvili to sign, since the Russian government would not accept my signature as an official of the Chechen Republic.

The main concern for me and for Basayev was: who would guarantee the free passage of the buses on which the Chechen fighters and their escorts would leave? Knowing the insidious behavior of the Russian military and leadership, when I returned to the HQ I asked on my own initiative that this guarantee be given by the Russian Prime Minister Chernomyrdin: without his direct intervention, Basayev’s men would not have left the building, and they would have agreed to fight to the death. All those present reacted with anger: Deputy Prime Minister Yegorov , FSB director Stephasin and other military commanders invited me to leave. To which, brusquely, I told them that if they stormed the hospital, the whole world would immediately know about it from me, and the death of the hostages would remain on their conscience!

While returning to Moscow with the Chechen delegation, the human rights activist, S. Kovalev, approached us, and told us that Chernomyrdin was willing to talk with us about the guarantees to be given to Basayev’s men. I replied that this shouldn’t have been behind the scenes, but that it should have been an official statement. I then demanded that the Prime Minister speak to Basayev directly on the phone, and threatened to abandon the negotiations, and to return to my job if the conversation did not take place.

When you left the hospital, you took about a hundred hostages with you. Do you remember any of them? Were you able to exchange a few words between you? What did the hostages think about what was happening?

As I said, after I learned that Chernomyrdin would call Basayev, I returned to the hospital on June 18th . Arriving from Basayev I asked him: if the Prime Minister provides a guarantee of safe passage to Chechnya, will this be a sufficient basis for the release of the hostages? Basayev and his men laughed: they didn’t believe such a guarantee would be possible. However Kovalev and the accompanying State Duma deputies confirmed my words, so we added this clause to the agreement, and signed it. I asked Basayev to give a sign of good will by handing over, together with the request for agreement, at least 100 hostages, including women and children, to be released. Basayev agreed to the request the next day.

Upon your departure, Basayev reportedly warned you: “Remember that you are a Chechen. If even a single hair falls from my fighters’ heads along the way, your whole family will answer for it!” Does this mean you got involved in a family feud to save the Budennovsk hostages?

Naturally this was a provocation on Basayev’s part. After all, I could not vouch for their free passage through Russian territory. Knowing about Yeltsin’s intention to show himself to the world community as a fighter against “terrorists”, I nipped in the bud another provocation thought up by the head of the operation to free the hostages, General Yerin . As soon as I arrived in Moscow, I gave several interviews to Russian and foreign journalists in which I feared a possible military provocation against Basayev’s detachment on the way back.

After signing the agreement, on your way home, you were abruptly called back at Aslambek ‘s explicit request Abdulkhadzhiev . The feds had asked all those who had joined Basayev on the return journey to sign a document that effectively exempted the Russian authorities from any responsibility in the event of accidents on the way back. It was a tacit admission of a willingness to raid Basayev’s convoy as soon as it entered Chechnya. Abdulkhadzhiev stated that without your intervention the negotiations would not have resumed. Did you know him? Why was your presence deemed necessary?

I have already mentioned General Yerin , the author of this receipt stating that such and such a person “voluntarily joins Shamil Basayev’s group…”. Abdulkhadzhiev reacted urgently to this provocation and declared that without a conversation with the President of the Constitutional Court of the Republic, the agreement would not proceed.

A car caught up with us on the way to the airport, and we were asked to come back. Upon arrival in Budennovsk, after reading the text proposed by General Yerin , I asked to speak urgently with Chernomyrdin and, after my explanations, Chernomyrdin slipped through Yerin , scolded him about the receipt and ordered him to cancel it. It later became known that the General was preparing an assault on Basayev’s convoy on orders from President Yeltsin, who was outside Russia at the time. Indeed, an attempted assault took place near the Chechen border, at the height of Kurskaya , when military helicopters began flying over the buses. However, due to the great attention these events caused and the presence of many foreign journalists, the attack did not take place.

Hostages leave the hospital

After resolving this second crisis, you were faced with the frustrated reaction of the Russian military and civilians who had witnessed the kidnapping. Why were they mad at you? What made them so nervous?

The answer in this case is unequivocal. Many soldiers wanted to destroy Basayev’s detachment and gain prestige. They didn’t care about the hostages and their punishments at the time. On our next visit to the hospital we realized that the army’s special units clearly wanted to take advantage of the stalemate in operations due to the negotiation process to storm the hospital. And the police major’s snide comment: You can’t come here, you’re no better than the terrorists you sent home I assumed I never expected the most basic humanity or gratitude from these people.

After Basayev’s return to Chechnya, your mission was over. Were you able to contact Dudayev, or another official of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria?

Unfortunately no, I was very busy with the international tribunal, and until 1996 I was unable to return to the republic. According to Abdulkhadzhiev , in the presence of Ismailov and Basayev, my actions in this mission were highly appreciated by the President, who said that at the first meeting with me he would present me with the Republic’s highest award, the “Honor of the Nation ”. Unfortunately, the infamous assassination of the President of the Chechen Republic prevented us from meeting on this earth.

Did the Russian authorities give you any credit for ending the Budennovsk hostage crisis?

First of all, I didn’t expect anything from gold and I didn’t work for them. I only accepted the offer to participate in this matter, in good faith, because I was one of the highest officials of the Republic. Secondly, I did what I did out of civic duty, and I am grateful to the Almighty for giving me the opportunity to be of service to my people and to free more than 1200 hostages who were not involved in hostilities, like dozens of thousands of civilians in Chechnya, who suffered the most from the presence of the Russian army.

It was said a long time ago that I was offered an apartment in Moscow. Speculation around this topic was a useless farce of the Russian leadership, just as some newly emerged “patriots” among the Chechens could be accused of treason, who even today cannot understand and evaluate my actions as Chairman of the Constitutional Court of the Republic Chechen. But that’s another topic!

The Budennovsk crisis allowed the Chechen government to conclude a truce which proved useful in winning the war. However, it has cast a shadow of terror on the resistance. How do you think Budennovsk changed the history of independent Chechnya?

Today the whole world has known the face of the Russian Empire and has finally understood that the war of the aggressor, launched against our republic, was the beginning of perfidy and contempt for all norms and principles of international law, so as well as its obligations to the world community. The Budennovsk events forced the Russian leadership to sit down at the negotiating table, and this saved tens of thousands of lives, both on the territory of our republic and in Russia itself.

As for the “shadow of terror”, state terror was declared against the Chechen people by Russia, exclusively on a national basis, and has not stopped to this day, even though the peace treaty with the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria was signed a long time ago! So who is guilty of terrorism? Who is the terrorist?

Thank God the European community has already declared Russia a sponsor of terrorism. This is mine answer at the your last question !

Text of the agreement drawn up by Gerikhanov.

The document, translated for us by Inna Kurochkina, says:

Agreed text for the time 10 hours 40 minutes 18.06.95.

On the release of the hostages, the city of Budyonnovsk.


-On the part of the Government of the Russian Federation represented by the Prime Minister

V.S. Chernomyrdin:

Immediately stop hostilities and bombardments of the territory of Chechnya.

All other issues, including the disengagement of troops, should be resolved exclusively by personal means on the basis of the negotiation process.

The person authorized to negotiate with the Chechen side is Usman Imaev.

-From Shamil Basayev:

Release of hostages, with the exception of the security assurance team.

Time of completion:

Statement by Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation Chernomyrdin.

The release of the hostages in the amount of one hundred people Sh. Basaev immediately after the speech of Viktor Chernomyrdin.

The rest, with the exception of the security guarantee group, are released during the time for the security of the departure of Sh. Basayev’s group.


10 hours 03 minutes


Viktor Stepanivich Chernomyrdin

Shamil Basaev

From the Government of the Russian Federation on behalf of Viktor Chernomyrdin: Head of

the Delegation Sergey Kovalev

From the Administration of the Stavropol Kraj Member of the delegation Sergey Popov

Deputy of the State Duma of the Russian Federation Yuliy Rybakov

From the side of the Chechen diaspora Khangoshvili Dzhabrail

Federation Council Deputy Viktor Kurochkin

Assistant to Kovalev Oleg Orlov “Memorial”

Amendments to the first document

The document, translated for us by Inna Kurochkina, says:

Additional agreements to the text of the Agreement dated June 18, 1995.

The delegation of the Russian Federation and Shamil Basayev’s group agreed on the following:

All questions of a political settlement, including the question of the status of the Republic of Chechnya, its relations with the federal authorities of the Russian Federation, and the republics of the Russian Federation, and other issues, should be resolved exclusively by peaceful means, on the basis of international legal acts, legislation and agreements reached in the negotiations.

This procedure should be the subject of consideration by authorized officials of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria and representatives of the Government and the Federal Assembly of

the Russian Federation.


11 hours 03 minutes


Shamil Basaev

From the side of the Chechen diaspora Khangoshvili Dzhabrail

From the delegation of the Russian Federation:

Sergey Kovalev

Juliy Rybakov (Deputy of the State Duma)

Viktor Kurochkin (Member of the Federal Assembly)

Oleg Orlov (“Memorial”)

From the Administration of the Stavropol Kraj Sergey Popov


The flag is not just a colored rag: it is the spiritual synthesis of a people’s identity. This is more than ever true when it comes to the flag of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria. Every Chechen who yearns for independence carries its colors in his memory, and gets excited every time he sees them. In the green cloth marked with red and white he finds the pride of a free nation, the tragedy of the blood shed by his brothers and the promise of a future redemption.

An informant who requested to remain anonymous has brought us some fascinating stories about the tricolor of Ichkeria, which we make available to our readers.

The official flag of Chechen Republic of Ichkeria

A flag at the market

September 6 , 1995. That day a major anti-war demonstration was scheduled in Grozny. At that time, a “filtration camp” was located in Neftyanka where prisoners from all over the republic were deported. Here they were tortured and if they survived, often set free for a ransom, they remained bent in body and spirit for the rest of their short lives.

In front of the camp there was a market teeming with people, organized for the military, the only ones who had money to make purchases. On the other side of the road, the armored vehicles on which the camp inmates were transported were stationed. Above them sat bored soldiers, swollen with beer bought at the market, waiting for a new “crop” of prisoners, victims of this terrible conveyor belt of death. Suddenly from a crossroads came a Zhiguli . The car parked between the market and the armored vehicle parking lot. A passenger came out of the car carrying a large ChRI flag, and began tying it to the door.

Panic immediately broke out: the sellers fled, spilling the goods, the soldiers suddenly awoke from their torpor, locking themselves inside their vehicles. The passenger of the Zhiguli , without flinching, finished arranging his flag, got into the car and slammed the door behind him. After that he set off again in complete tranquillity. It was enough for a patriot to display the flag of the Chechen Republic, with the wolf guarding it, to unleash panic among the Russian military. They had seen what miracles the Chechens had performed under this banner, defending their land from invaders.

The flag on the wall of the Council of Ministers, 1992

The flag on the crane

During the war, someone hoisted a large ChRI flag on a tall construction crane at the “new stop” in Staropromyslvsky district . The occupation authorities, noticing her, demanded that she be seized. However, they could not find anyone willing to ride the crane, not even for a reward. There were rumors that somewhere there was a sniper guarding the flag, who would electrocute anyone who approached the flag. Thus, the tricolor of Ichkeria continued to fly on the crane until August 1996, when the Chechens liberated Grozny and victoriously ended the war.

The flag of the Presidential Palace

ChRI’s most famous flag was the one that flew from the Presidential Palace. In times of peace, citizens could see this great banner waving in the sky. During the first war this was impetuously bombed and, after two anti-bunker bombs managed to penetrate up to the basement of the structure, it was necessary to evacuate it to avoid a massacre. The Palace gave shelter to hundreds of people (up to 800) and the bombings had so deeply affected the structure that its defenders, and the wounded, risked ending up buried under the rubble. So it was decided to abandon it: not before, however, having removed the flag from the mast to save it. Under a massive barrage a patrol ventured onto the roof of the palace, removed the flag and took care of it, preventing it from falling into the hands of the Russians, who would no doubt display it as a trophy. It seems that the national flag is still preserved and protected waiting to be able to wave again for a free Chechnya.

A boy waves the flag of Ichkeria in the ruins of Grozny

Bamut’s flag

One of the most legendary and iconic places of the First Russo-Chechen War is undoubtedly the Bamut fortress. Here the Chechens resisted the attacks of the Russian army for many months, enduring a terrible siege. One day, after yet another bombardment, the defenders realized that there was not a single building left intact enough to hang the flag. It was then decided to hoist it on the village water tower. The Russians, who evidently feared that that flag alone would prevent them from advancing, fired artillery at the tower until it collapsed to the ground, taking the flag with it. It was evident that the Russians were so afraid of the Chechen cloth that they were unwilling to fight under it. The defenders then decided to hang the flag from the tallest mast, so that it would continue to instill fear in the enemy.

Akhmed Zakayev a Rimini (11/12/2022) “Da dove viene l’espressione ‘La Cecenia fa parte della Russia’?”

Quello che segue è il testo integrale dell’intervento presentato dal Presidente del Gabinetto dei Ministri del governo ceceno, Akhmed Zakayev, al Congresso Nazionale dei Radicali, svoltosi a Rimini tra il 9 e l’11 Dicembre 2022. Lo avevamo tradotto per l’occasione dall’inglese, affinchè potesse essere distribuito agli astanti. Lo riproponiamo ai lettori di questo blog.

11.12.2022 Rimini, Italia

Signor Presidente,

Signore e signori,

All’inizio del mio intervento, vorrei ringraziare gli organizzatori di questo forum. In particolare ” Radicali Italiani ”. così come tutti i membri del movimento.

Da più di 30 anni partecipo direttamente ai processi militari e politici in corso sia all’interno della stessa Cecenia, sia – ora – al di fuori della Cecenia. Le informazioni rilasciate dagli uffici stampa dei ministeri e delle agenzie russe hanno lo scopo di distogliere l’attenzione da fatti oggettivi. Gli ideologi del Cremlino praticano ancora la teoria totalitaria secondo cui se ripeti mille volte una bugia, diventerà la verità. Preferisco l’affermazione di Abraham Lincoln: che puoi ingannare alcune persone per sempre, e tutte le persone per qualche tempo, ma mai tutte le persone per sempre.

Il presente e il futuro di qualsiasi conflitto devono essere definiti innanzitutto dalla natura di quel conflitto. Probabilmente avrete sentito dozzine di versioni delle origini del conflitto tra Russia e Cecenia. Le riserve petrolifere e il terrorismo islamico internazionale hanno poco o nulla a che fare con l’origine del conflitto. Vorrei spiegare di cosa ha così paura il governo russo.

Dall’inizio della guerra russo-cecena, l’11 dicembre 1994, ogni tentativo della comunità mondiale di impegnarsi nella soluzione pacifica del conflitto è stato bloccato dalla tesi dell’integrità territoriale della Federazione Russa. Oggi che il nostro conflitto è degenerato in un circolo vizioso, è estremamente importante esaminarlo dal punto di vista della sua legalità. Epiteti come “autodichiarato”, “separatista”, “ribelle” o “non riconosciuto” sono spesso usati per descrivere la Repubblica cecena. Essi non si basano su fatti storici e legali.

Lo status sovrano della Repubblica cecena è legittimo quanto lo era l’URSS. Nell’aprile 1990, durante le riforme del sistema sovietico di Gorbaciov, il Soviet Supremo dell’URSS adottò due leggi di fondamentale importanza per le nazioni dell’Unione Sovietica.

Il 10 aprile 1990. “Sulla base dei rapporti economici tra l’URSS e l’Unione e le Repubbliche Autonome” Poi il 26 aprile 1990 “Sulla divisione dell’autorità tra l’URSS ei sudditi della Federazione”. Questa normativa conteneva, accanto a disposizioni più generali, una serie di articoli che modificarono radicalmente lo statuto delle repubbliche autonome. Da quel momento esse condivisero gli stessi diritti delle altre repubbliche sovrane. Entrambi i tipi di repubbliche godettero del diritto alla “libera autodeterminazione dei popoli”.

Il 27 novembre 1990 , a seguito di un editto ufficiale del Soviet Supremo dell’URSS, il Soviet Supremo della Repubblica ceceno-inguscia ha adottato una Dichiarazione sulla sovranità dello Stato.

Per tutta la vita dell’URSS, tutto ciò che aveva a che fare con lo status giuridico, la “statalità” ei confini delle varie entità etniche all’interno del paese era prerogativa esclusiva del Soviet Supremo dell’URSS.

Il motivo per cui sto entrando così nei dettagli è perché possiate capire che non c’è stata alcuna rivolta, nessuna presa del potere da parte di separatisti armati. La sovranità della Repubblica cecena è stata stabilita dall’adozione nell’URSS di diverse nuove leggi nell’aprile 1990, e quindi era assolutamente legale e legittima ai sensi del diritto sovietico, del diritto russo e del diritto internazionale.

Quindi, quando l’Unione Sovietica fu sciolta nel dicembre 1991, la Repubblica cecena esisteva da più di un anno come stato sovrano, riconosciuto nell’ordinamento giuridico dell’URSS, uguale a tutte le “Repubbliche dell’Unione” (Russia, Georgia , Ucraina, Stati baltici e altri) e si stava preparando a firmare il Trattato dell’Unione aggiornato.

Lo status paritario della Repubblica cecena è stato infatti riconosciuto dal governo della Russia nel 1992, in occasione della spartizione ufficiale delle armi e dei beni dell’ex esercito sovietico che si trovavano nella Repubblica di Cecenia. Una simile divisione delle armi e dei beni dell’esercito sovietico ebbe luogo tra la Russia e tutte le ex repubbliche dell’URSS.

Il 1992 è stato un anno chiave per la Repubblica cecena a causa di altri due eventi che hanno avuto luogo: il primo è stato l’adozione della nostra Costituzione, che ha confermato lo status della Repubblica cecena come Stato sovrano democratico. La seconda è stata la firma del Trattato federale in Russia, cui la Repubblica cecena non ha partecipato.

Akhmed Zakayev

Da dove viene l’espressione “la Cecenia fa parte della Russia”?

Nell’ottobre 1993 il presidente Eltsin ordinò alle truppe di sparare sul parlamento russo e disperse l’assemblea. Quando il presidente Eltsin ordinò un referendum per una costituzione russa, non esisteva né il parlamento russo né la costituzione russa. Poiché la Repubblica cecena aveva un parlamento dal 1991, il quale aveva adottato una costituzione nel 1992, la Repubblica cecena non ha partecipato al referendum russo. La Costituzione russa contiene un articolo in cui si afferma che lo Stato russo è uno Stato federale, composto da soggetti che hanno firmato volontariamente il Trattato federale. Un altro articolo afferma che la Repubblica cecena è un soggetto della Federazione Russa. La presidenza russa ha violato tutte le possibili norme legali quando ha incluso la Repubblica cecena come “soggetto” della Federazione Russa nella Costituzione russa.

Nel 1994, dopo tre anni e mezzo di terrorismo di stato, di ricatti, di tentativi di indebolire la leadership cecena, che non sono riusciti a far capitolare la Repubblica cecena, la Russia ha scatenato un’invasione militare su vasta scala. Questa guerra fu cinicamente dichiarata per “l’instaurazione dell’ordine costituzionale”, mentre in realtà fu una guerra che violava tutti i principi del diritto internazionale, comprese le Convenzioni di Ginevra che regolano le norme di guerra.

Nel 1996 la guerra finì e tutte le truppe russe furono ritirate dalla Repubblica cecena. Nel gennaio 1997, con l’attivo supporto metodologico e logistico dell’OSCE e in conformità con la Costituzione cecena del 1992, la Cecenia ha tenuto le elezioni presidenziali e parlamentari, ufficialmente riconosciute dal Consiglio d’Europa che ha inviato un gran numero di osservatori, e dalla stessa Federazione Russa.

Il 12 maggio 1997è stato firmato il documento più importante di tutta la storia dei rapporti tra Russia e Cecenia. Il trattato di pace che ha stabilito i principi fondamentali per le relazioni tra la Federazione Russa e la Repubblica cecena di Ichkeria .

Il difficile ma chiaramente promettente processo di creazione di relazioni interstatali reciprocamente accettabili tra la Russia e la Repubblica cecena fu interrotto nel 1998, quando il Consiglio di Sicurezza della Federazione Russa, presieduto da Putin, il quale era anche direttore dell’FSB, pose un clamoroso freno al processo negoziale.

Al nostro governo viene spesso rimproverata l’accusa di aver avuto il tempo e l’opportunità dopo la fine della prima guerra russo-cecena di rafforzare e affermare la nostra sovranità. Posso affermare con piena autorità che in realtà non abbiamo avuto né il tempo, né l’opportunità, e questo perché i servizi segreti russi hanno immediatamente avviato seri preparativi per una seconda guerra. Hanno scatenato una dura ondata di operazioni terroristiche contro la Cecenia, che includevano esplosioni, omicidi e rapimenti, in particolare di stranieri e giornalisti. Molti noti politici hanno dichiarato pubblicamente che la Cecenia doveva essere portata a uno stato tale da implorare in ginocchio di poter rientrare nella Federazione Russa.

Dopo lo scioglimento dell’URSS, i sostenitori di un forte governo centrale in Russia si lamentavano che non esisteva più un’idea unificatrice e quindi che ciò che restava del grande impero russo, la Federazione Russa, avrebbe potuto sgretolarsi. Il Cremlino ha trovato l’idea che era necessaria. Hanno sostituito l’idea di Marx di combattere il capitalismo con l’idea di combattere il terrorismo. Il vantaggio della nuova idea era che quando si trattava di teoria e pratica degli atti di terrore, la Russia era stata il leader mondiale per tutto il XX secolo, e in tutti i continenti.

Vi interesserà sapere che durante la prima guerra del 1994-1996 siamo stati etichettati come banditi, separatisti, fascisti, ogni sorta di cose, ma nessun politico russo si è sognato di chiamarci fondamentalisti o terroristi islamici, figuriamoci terroristi internazionali.

Il Cremlino aveva già esperienza nel collegare la questione cecena con i problemi internazionali. Stalin, ad esempio, quando affrontò la questione cecena nel 1944 (deportando l’intera nazione nelle steppe del Kazakistan e della Siberia), accusò il popolo ceceno di collaborare con i tedeschi fascisti, anche se i nazisti non riuscirono mai ad occupare la Cecenia. Gli alleati democratici di Stalin potevano allora trovare comprensibili le sue affermazioni. Nel nostro tempo, presentare la Cecenia come uno dei principali focolai del terrorismo islamico internazionale sembra adattarsi convenientemente all’opinione pubblica russa, ma anche a quella dell’Occidente.

Akhmed Zakayev parla alla Camera dei Deputati in Italia

Negli ultimi anni i liberal-democratici russi ci hanno parlato dei processi negativi che hanno avuto luogo e sono tuttora in corso in Russia. Sono profondamente convinto che ciò che il regime di Putin ha fatto in Russia sia la conseguenza e il riflesso di quanto è accaduto, e continua ad accadere, in Cecenia.

L’isteria anti-cecena fomentata dal Cremlino che gode dell’appoggio della maggioranza assoluta della società russa, democratici compresi.

Menzogne spudorate, illegalità e crimini crudeli sono gli strumenti della politica russa nei confronti della Cecenia. Infiammata dalla propaganda della Grande Potenza, la società russa acconsentì prontamente ai mezzi ovvi e malvagi usati contro i ceceni, e quando questi iniziarono ad essere usati contro gli stessi russi era già troppo tardi per cambiare qualcosa.

Una campagna di terrore contro una piccola nazione non può portare a risultati positivi. Le prevedibili conseguenze di una guerra criminale scatenata contro la Cecenia sono state una restrizione delle libertà democratiche, inclusa l’abolizione della libertà di parola, della libertà per l’attività imprenditoriale privata e della libertà per le minoranze religiose. Procedimenti penali politicamente motivati, persecuzione delle organizzazioni per i diritti civili, violazione dei diritti elettorali dei cittadini, fascismo sempre più forte e grave interferenza negli affari interni degli stati vicini: questi sono tutti risultati naturali della criminale guerra anti-cecena, che continua nel suo 28 anno.

Il rifiuto della Russia di riconoscere l’indipendenza della Repubblica cecena, e il conseguente scatenarsi di una guerra, ha creato false aspettative in molte persone riguardo alla possibile risoluzione dei conflitti post-sovietici. La Georgia, la Moldavia ei loro amici volevano vedere la Russia soggiogare la Cecenia il prima possibile, immaginando che dopo questo sarebbe stata ripristinata la loro “integrità territoriale”.

I bombardamenti a tappeto di villaggi e città, la violazione di ogni norma militare, le pulizie etniche e il genocidio commessi durante le due guerre anti-cecene erano tutti considerati affari interni della Russia.

Putin era fiducioso che gli attuali leader occidentali non avrebbero mai cambiato il loro atteggiamento pubblicamente dichiarato nei confronti della Russia , qualunque cosa faccia.

Il regime russo è emerso nella sua forma attuale in gran parte grazie all’incoraggiamento che la Russia ha ricevuto dagli stati occidentali nella sua barbara guerra contro la Cecenia, uno dei conflitti più sanguinosi e violenti in Europa dalla Seconda Guerra Mondiale. 300 mila civili , di cui oltre 40mila bambini , sono stati uccisi in Cecenia.

 Sono profondamente convinto che gli interessi economici di alcuni paesi e gli interessi politici di alcuni politici non debbano essere superiori al destino di un intero popolo. Sono anche assolutamente sicuro che la mancanza di un’adeguata reazione del mondo occidentale alla tragedia cecena sia la ragione principale per cui la Russia ha commesso un’aggressione militare contro la Georgia e l’Ucraina.

Sono lieto che il mondo si sia reso conto che la politica di pacificazione non può essere continuata e abbia condannato fermamente l’aggressione russa contro l’Ucraina.

I ceceni sono stati coinvolti in questa guerra dalla parte degli ucraini dal 2014. Putin, durante l’invasione su larga scala dell’Ucraina da parte della Russia, ha attirato i cosiddetti Kadyroviti nelle file degli occupanti russi. Questa decisione è stata presa con l’obiettivo di portare odio tra ceceni e ucraini. Ma grazie alla saggezza del popolo ucraino e alle azioni corrette del governo della CRI in esilio, Putin non è riuscito a raggiungere questo obiettivo. Il 26 febbraio Bruxelles ha ospitato una riunione del Comitato di Stato per la Disoccupazione della CRI, di cui sono a capo, in qualità di capo del governo della CRI in esilio. In questo incontro si decise di formare distaccamenti di volontari tra i ceceni in Europa per partecipare alla guerra a fianco degli ucraini. Lo stesso giorno, abbiamo annunciato questa decisione attraverso i media. Mi sono anche rivolto al presidente Zelensky sulla necessità di concludere un accordo sulla cooperazione militare tra le parti. In modo che la partecipazione dei ceceni a un conflitto armato non contraddica la Convenzione di Ginevra del 1949 e il protocollo aggiuntivo del 7 dicembre 1978 “Protezione delle persone che partecipano alle ostilità”, in modo che questa persona non rientri nell’articolo “mercenari” della suddetta Convenzione.

Il 28 maggio, nella città di Kiev, è stato firmato un accordo di mutua assistenza e sostegno tra i dipartimenti militari dell’Ucraina e la CRI. Da quel momento è in corso la formazione di una brigata separata per scopi speciali come parte della legione straniera dell’Ucraina. Due battaglioni sono lì dal 2014. Due battaglioni sono stati formati dopo la firma di un accordo interdipartimentale. E al momento, il terzo battaglione sta venendo reclutato.

Ora vorrei divagare leggermente dall’argomento principale e citare il primo presidente della Repubblica cecena di Ichkeria , Dzhokhar Dudayev, il quale ha detto nel 1995: “quando il sole della libertà sorgerà in Ucraina, verrà la fine dell’Impero russo”.

Infatti, oggi, in connessione con la guerra in Ucraina, il mondo si sta riorganizzando e l’Ucraina è diventata il leader del mondo libero.

La mia fiducia è rafforzata dal fatto che il 18 ottobre la Verkhovna Rada dell’Ucraina ha riconosciuto il genocidio del popolo ceceno e che il territorio della Repubblica cecena di Ichkeria è stato temporaneamente occupato dalla Russia. Questo è un evento epocale nella storia della formazione dello stato ceceno. Questo apre grandi opportunità per il governo della CRI in esilio.

Sono sicuro che oggi il mio popolo, come mai prima nella sua storia, è vicino al ripristino della propria statualità. E garantisco che con l’aiuto dell’Onnipotente, il nostro governo all’estero non perderà questa occasione storica.

Grazie a tutti.

Akhmed Zakayev

Presidente del Gabinetto dei Ministri della Repubblica Cecena di Ichkeria

Capo del Comitato per la De – Occupazione della Repubblica Cecena di Ichkeria

On line le mappe del secondo volume di “Libertà o morte!”

Durante la preparazione del secondo volume di quest’opera abbiamo disegnato alcune mappe relative ai momenti salienti della Prima Guerra Russo – Cecena. Tuttavia, fino ad oggi, non siamo riusciti ad inserire le mappe sulla versione cartacea del libro. Abbiamo appena posto rimedio aggiungendo dei QR alla fine del volume, per permetterne la consultazione ai lettori.

Per coloro che hanno acquistato il volume nella precedente versione (priva dei QR per raggiungere i link alle mappe) pubblichiamo questo articolo, che sarà sempre disponibile nella sezione APPROFONDIMENTI/MAPPE di questo sito.

Back to the Constitution: Francesco Benedetti interviews Ikhvan Gerikhanov (Part 2)

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.

Zelimkhan 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.

Chechnya, 1997: Religious police impose corporal punishment for drunkenness

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!

Dokku Umarov (center) last President of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria and founder of the Caucasus Emirate

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.


The sharp deterioration of Russian-Chechen relations and the intensification of activities by the Russian special services in Ichkeria and neighboring territories began with Putin’s appointment as Secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation. Armed provocations were staged on the Russian-Chechen border. In April 1999, for example, Russian forces attacked a Chechen border post along the Kizlyar section of the border at night, killing one guard and wounding several others. This was evidently an attempt to draw the Chechens into an armed conflict in Dagestan. However Maskhadov, realizing what the Russians wanted to achieve, forbade any retaliatory action across the border. The Russian provocation, therefore, was not followed up. The next action was staged in the Herzel section of the border in May 1999. Fierce fighting took place here for several days, during which even field artillery was used. The Russians’ plan was the same – to lure the Dagestanis to their side. Once again, however, the President of Ichkeria managed to preserve the peace between the Chechen and Dagestani peoples. Even this cowardly enterprise failed, the Russians began to threaten the country with all kinds of ultimatums.

Aslan Maskhadov (left) and Alexander Lebed (right) sign the Khasavyurt’s Accords, August 1996

President Yeltsin’s second term was coming to an end, and to save themselves from prison this drunkard’s entourage began frantically looking for a replacement. However, this group did not have a candidate who could validly oppose Primakov, and with the latter’s coming to power, all this mess would end: everything they plundered would be confiscated from them. In an attempt to find a good man they first turned to Stephasin, who refused. After these appeared Putin, like a devil from a snuffbox. He was ready to accept all the conditions stipulated by the Yeltsin clique. However , he was not yet popular enough to oppose Primakov. Thus it was that the public relations specialists, led by Berezovsky, Voloshin and Pavlovsky played the “Chechen card” in favor of Putin.

Every presidential campaign in modern “democratic” Russia is shrouded in tragedy and blood. At that time the GRU and the FSB flooded Chechnya with their agents. The services were infiltrated into the restricted circle of Chechen political-military leaders, taking advantage of the latter’s indifference in the selection of their entourage, soon becoming confidants of their godfathers. As the struggle for the presidency intensified in Moscow, Russian agents accelerated their provocative and subversive activities, as was evident from the events that began to occur in Ichkeria. I recall that in the spring of 1997 rumors began to circulate about the imminent unification of Chechnya and Dagestan into a single Islamic state, and that a “cleansing” of Russians would soon begin in preparation for this unification. Various kinds of figures and emissaries began to appear in Chechnya, coming from Dagestan. These men found great hospitality, and the support of those who supported them. Without encountering any significant opposition from the authorities, supporters of the Imamate began to promote the idea of creating a Chechen-Dagestan state “to marry Dagestan to Ichkeria” as one of them put it.

Some time later, a congress of the Chechen and Dagestani peoples was held in Dzhokhar, in the presence of the same leadership of Ichkeria. Shamil Basayev was elected Imam of Chechnya and Dagestan, with the aim of establishing an Imamate. Analyzing everything that was happening, it was obvious that this was being done under the direction of the Lubyanka , but any sober remarks regarding this adventure met with strong opposition from the “advocates of pure Islam”, anyone who dared to say something objective in this matter he would have been branded as an “apostate”, an agent of the Russians, a Jew or belonging to other categories considered hostile to the Chechens.

Shamil Basayev and Al Khattab, the two main animators of the Congress of Peoples of Ichkeria and Dagestan

After using all sorts of provocations against Ichkeria, starting with the financing of slave traders and ending with battles on the Russian-Chechen border, without results, the Russian revanchists used the risk of an Islamic insurrection in the Caucasus as a strong argument for the 1999 presidential campaign. In the summer of 1999, Basayev and his supporters accelerated preparations for the invasion of Dagestan, making no secret of their plans. The leadership of Ichkeria, being in a serious internal crisis, did not have the opportunity to intervene.

At the end of August , more precisely on August 28, 1999, a meeting of the State Defense Committee (GKO) was held in the building of the Presidential Administration. Almost all of the country’s military-political leadership attended this meeting, as well as religious figures and some members of Parliament. The main argument was evidently the invasion of Dagestan. Basayev had shown himself to the whole world in the territory of Dagestan, with a watermelon in his hand. The GKO was expected to make a decision on this issue , and a proposal was made to ask Basayev to immediately leave Dagestan, and return to Chechnya.

The meeting took place in a tense atmosphere: the president assessed the situation as very difficult, and harshly accused Basayev of having exposed the Chechen people to serious consequences. Finally, he urged those present to prepare to repel the invasion of the Russians, as, according to him, another war was inevitable at this point. At the end of his speech, the President asked the members of the State Defense Committee to express their opinion on this issue. On the eve of the GKO meeting, I hoped that a collective statement condemning the actions of Shamil Basayev would be presented: I am sure that Shamil would not have remained indifferent to the GKO’s pronouncement. Yet this did not happen. Without boring the reader with a list of the names of those present, I will say that there were 35/40 people there. For the most part the speakers expressed little, and not very clearly. A clear and unequivocal position on the matter was expressed by no more than 3 – 4 people. Among them was Akhmed Zakayev. In his speech the Minister of Culture supported and approved Basayev’s actions without hesitation. I, in turn, called Basayev’s actions a crime against the Chechen people. Many of those who condemn Basayev’s action today remained silent then. The lack of a unanimous decision on this issue was a mistake on the part of the GKO. The leadership of Ichkeria, with its fragmentation, showed the side of Russian anti-Chechen propaganda. Our short-sightedness was very useful to the Russian revanchists.


Last October, the municipality of Krivoy Rog (Krivij Rih in Ukrainian) renamed 150 streets, roads and city squares. Among these, 5 stand out, dedicated to the memory of some of the main Chechen leaders who fell during the Russo-Chechen wars (Dudaev, Gelaev, Arsanov) as well as one dedicated to Sheikh Mansour, Chechen national hero and one dedicated to the free Chechen, Free Ichkeria Street .

The street dedicated to the memory of Dzhokhar Dudaev
The street dedicated to the memory of Ruslan Gelayev
The street dedicated to the memory of Vakha Arsanov