Chechnya becomes a part of Russia (weekly review)
By Dzhambulat Are
GROZNY, Chechnya - Those who argue that Ramzan Kadyrov is gradually turning Chechnya into a social entity that is separate and independent from Russia are plainly ignoring the details. The Chechen leader obviously sees the republic as an integral part of the common federal space, and is doing all that he can to make unity with Russia – not only political but also cultural – an indispensable element of Chechen life. Moreover, in an effort to mark his territory as a Russian possession, Kadyrov frequently acts without regard for the sentiments and customs of Chechen society.
Thus, for example, the Moscow-backed Chechen authorities have acquired a passion for observing the all-Russian holidays with a panache that is unseemly for this republic, which has experienced two wars and, according to various estimates, lost up to twenty per cent of its population. The events now being celebrated include some of which the Chechen man in the street is unable to glean the significance.
One holiday with a “telling” name – the Day of Russian National Unity, which marks the expulsion of the Poles from Moscow on November 4, 1612 – was celebrated in Grozny last autumn with such reckless fury and delight that one might have thought the Chechen ancestors had returned from the beyond. A habit of following political fashion, coupled with a contempt for all formalities, has prompted Kadyrov to make his own contribution to the establishment of new holiday dates.
In recent years all the ethnic regions of the North Caucasus have held lavish celebrations marking the accession to Russia of their peoples and territories. In most cases where a particular date was fixed, the authorities took a rather free approach to historical events. A chorus of specialists was unanimous in expression its dissatisfaction, pointing out that once again the truth was being sacrificed to political expediency. But the scholars and academics did not even begin to guess how limitlessly far it is possible to advance along the path of revising the past.
On September 15 this year the current Chechen authorities decided to make a present of a new festive date to the former citizens of independent Ichkeria. By their modest calculations, exactly 420 years have passed since the establishment of “good-neighbourly relations between Russia and the Chechen Republic”.
Of what actually happened on this day 420 years ago, not much is known. The ancestors of today's Chechens and Russians sat around a table that was probably placed somewhere between the rivers Don and Terek and resolved to live in neighbourly harmony with each other (for details see the Russian version of this article).
In order to mark this landmark event, a special organizing committee headed by Chechnya’s Prime Minister Odes Baysultanov was set up. At the first meeting an exact date – October 5 – was appointed for the holding of the celebrations. Just in case anyone happens to be in ignorance of the biography of Ramzan Kadyrov, let me remind them that this is the date of his birth. The convergence is clearly not accidental. Kadyrov does not differentiate himself from the country, so he has decided to combine his birthday with what in his view is the most important event in Chechnya’s past.
At the same time, however, what the celebration of this anniversary is saying is that there was no Caucasus War, there were no punitive raids by Russian generals on Chechen villages in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, no village of Dadi-Yurt burned to the ground together with all its inhabitants, no bombardment by NKVD troops of mountain villages in the early 1920s, no ruthless massacre of mountain tribesmen under the guise of weapons seizures in the 1930s, no deportation of the entire Chechen people to Siberia in the winter of 1944, and much else besides. None of these things ever happened.
The illustration is borrowed from Allday.ru web site.
Previous weekly reviews can be read at http://www.watchdog.cz/weekly.
(Translation by DM)