Akhmed Zakaev is the Prime Minister in Exile of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria (CRI). He was born in 1959 into a family deported by Stalin’s regime, along with the rest of the Chechen population, in 1944. Zakaev graduated from acting and choreography schools in Voronezh and Moscow and became an actor, specializing in Shakespearean roles. In 1994 he became Minister of Culture in the independent Chechen government of Djohar Dudaev, and during the First Russo-Chechen War was commander of the Western Group for the Defence of Ichkeria.
Russia, Chechnya, and the West: 2000–2006
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Translated by Arch Tait
When Vladimir Putin
became President of Russia in 2000, his first priority was to
re-establish the intelligence agencies’ grip on the country by
portraying himself as a strongman protecting Russian citizens from
security threats. Despite condemnation by the United Nations, the
European Parliament, and European Union, the policy of brutal
‘ethnic cleansing’ in Chechnya continued. For Putin, Islamist
attacks on the United States of September 11, 2001, were a welcome
opportunity to rebrand the war against Chechen independence, not as
the crushing of a democracy, but as a contribution to President
George W. Bush’s ‘War on Terror’.
Akhmed Zakaev’s memoirs are an essential document for anyone who
wishes to understand the fate of Chechnya in modern times and the
rise of Vladimir Putin. Zakaev was an adroit political strategist at
a time when Russia was seeking to wipe out Chechen independence once
and for all. He is also an acute analyst of international affairs.
He observed earlier than most that Russia in the post-Boris Yeltsin
years was heading in an authoritarian and dangerously chauvinist
direction. Putin — a ‘spawn of the KGB’, in Zakaev’s damning phrase
— had a darker vision for Russia’s future, in which law and human
rights counted for little.
... Zakaev has done
great service to Chechnya in battle and here in writing.
Subjugate or Exterminate! :
A Memoir of Russia’s Wars Against Chechnya
Translated by Arch Tait
Academica Press, 2019
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This book is one of the most reliable and comprehensive sources
available on the bloody 300-year conflict between Russia and the
Republic of Chechnya.
Zakaev was a central figure
in the most recent chapter of this struggle. As such, he is uniquely
positioned to explain Russia’s inherent failure to understand the
viewpoints of its numerous national minorities – something which will
ultimately result in the downfall of the Russian empire.
study of the text sheds a good deal of light on the character of Zakaev
himself, his bravery, common sense, humanity and intelligence — a Hamlet
who became a man of action because he realised there was (and is)
something very rotten in the state of
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