Do the Chechens feel European?

Chechens: Kadyrov's critics feel defenseless

Almost two years after the murder of asylum seeker Umar Israilov in Vienna, members of the Chechen community have criticized the authorities for abandoning them.

Vienna. In the first days of the Chechen war in December 1994, Huseyn Ishanov often sat in the basement of the presidential palace in Grozny and listened to the Russian radio. As the personal adjutant of the Chechen leader Aslan Mashadov, he was involved in the defense of the Chechen capital.

Today he is sitting in his living room in Vienna. There are two laptops in one corner, and the cell phone keeps ringing. Ishanow, a 55-year-old with a clear look and a gray mustache, answers telephone inquiries sometimes in Chechen, sometimes in Russian, and more rarely in German. Ishanov lobbies in the EU Parliament, campaigns for a UN tribunal to investigate Russian crimes in Chechnya, and took part in the Chechen World Congress in Pultusk, Poland. "I do this for my descendants", Ishanow answers when asked why he, the father of six, is so active in exile when he describes himself as an "old man". The recognized refugee is on a diplomatic mission in Europe today, for an independent Chechnya, "Ichkeria", as the supporters of the nationalist Ahmed Sakayev, Mashadov's successor, call it.


A few hundred active people

After the assassination of Umar Israilov, his alleged persecutors - supporters of Kadyrov - were in the limelight. The Green MP Peter Pilz estimates the number of Kadyrov “thugs” in Vienna at 30 people, and there should be 5,000 sympathizers across Austria. But not only Kadyrov's men and representatives of Sakayev - in the inner circle "about 100 men", so Ishanov - are active in Austria, but also supporters of the Islamist rebel leader Doku Umarov. A suspected supporter of Umarov is also said to be Aslambek I, who was arrested on December 1 in Vienna-Schwechat. He is accused of having planned an attack against NATO (see article below). Umarov split off from Sakayev in 2007 and embarked on a radical Islamist course. Although his supporters are in the minority in Austria, many young people find his radical rhetoric attractive. "Sharia first, then republic," is her motto, Ishanow said. His is the other way around.

During demonstrations - for example against the visit of then President Vladimir Putin to Vienna - Sakayev and Umarov's supporters mobilized a few hundred Chechens. Bert Scharner from the European-Chechen Society does not believe that the connection to the home front is close: "The fighters live somewhere in the forest, contact with them is not so easy." Anti-Kadyrov activists in Austria are like "followers of Football clubs ":" They wish their players success. "

You disseminate information, sometimes collect money. Scharner thinks little of the thesis of “imported conflicts”: “The largest faction is the one that goes nowhere. People are scared. "


Flow of information to Grozny

Aslan B. is also afraid, so he doesn't want to read his real name in the newspaper. “I don't feel protected by the police.” The young man draws a threat scenario: Kadyrov's liaison officers in Austria would collect information from Chechens and forward it to Grozny. Those who express themselves critically are put under pressure - and worse: "Our relatives in Chechnya are receiving threatening phone calls." Kadyrov makes no secret of the fact that he wants to pursue critics beyond the borders of his small republic. to face every adversary, also abroad. Since the Israilov case, the Austrian Chechens have perceived the authorities with growing skepticism. According to the popular opinion, Austria does not want to mess with Russia.

Cases like that of Kosum Y., informant for the protection of the constitution and older brother of the suspect Turpan-Ali Y. in the Israilov trial, increase distrust - or the example of an employee at the Russian embassy, ​​Said Selim P., a suspected FSB representative who is supposed to “take care” specifically of Chechen refugees and to be in close contact with the Interior Ministry. All of this is incomprehensible to Kadyrov's critics. "Why do the police have advisors from the Russian secret service or from Kadyrov?" Aslan B. asks. "They just want to use them."

At a glance

26,000 Chechens live in Austria. Asylum recognition rate: 30 percent. Minister Fekter signed a repatriation agreement with Russia on Wednesday in Moscow, which regulates deportations more precisely.

("Die Presse", print edition, December 18, 2010)