Thursday, February 23, 2017

On 73rd Anniversary of Deportation, Chechnya and Ingushetia Divide on Stalin and His Crimes

Paul Goble

            Staunton, February 23 – Seventy-three years ago today, Stalin the two Vaynakh nations, the Chechens and the Ingush, thousands of whom lost their lives in the process before being allowed to return to their North Caucasus homeland after the dictator’s death.  But this year, the two nations are treating that anniversary and Stalin very differently.

            Ingushetia not only marked the anniversary as it has done every year since perestroika times, but its republic parliament unanimously passed on first reading a law banning Stalin monuments of any kind and making it illegal to express support for the Soviet dictator  (, and

            One Ingush parliamentarian said that praising Stalin was “blasphemy” given that he had “deported dozens of ethnic groups” and “killed or jailed tens of thousands of members of the intelligentsia and military,” a remarkable position to take about a man Vladimir Putin has praised as “an effective manager” and one the Russian people as a whole view increasingly positively.

            But in neighboring Chechnya, officials there said there would be “no official activities devoted to this anniversary of the Stalinist deportation” because Chechens would be celebrating the Russian Day of the Defender of the Fatherland. Not all Chechens are happy about this, however (

            In addition to wanting to conform to Putin’s preference, Ramzan Kadyrov and his government have two reasons for not marking the deportation anniversary on its actual date. On the one hand, Kadyrov in 2011 moved that anniversary to May 10, and Grozny has marked that date ever since.

And on the other, Dzhokhar Dudayev, the first president of Chechnya-Ichkeria, established February 23 as the Day of National Rebirth of the Chechen People ( No one in Moscow would want that recalled.

            But as the Kavkaz-Uzel portal noted, “the residents of Chechnya do not agree” with Kadyrov’s and Moscow’s arrangements and believe that they should recall the tragedy of their people on the day it began.  And they are especially furious at Kadyrov for suggesting that the Chechens bear responsibility for the deportation.

            “How were our elderly, our women and our children, who died from hunger, cold and illness guilty” of this crime? One Chechen asked. “How can one say such bestial things?”

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