Saturday, July 30, 2022

Efforts to Unite Chechen Diaspora in Europe Highlight a Fundamental Problem

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 6 – One group in the Chechen diaspora, which enjoys the support of Ukrainian parliamentarians interested in promoting greater freedom for the peoples of Russia, is seeking to hold a congress in Strasbourg to unite all Chechens so that they can speak with a single voice regarding the future of their homeland.

            But the effort has run into the same problems that other efforts to unite diasporas have: the Chechen diaspora is extremely diverse with some of its members supporters of Ichkeria and others of Ramzan Kadyrov; and any unity will either be shaky or allow one group to weaken the other.

            Not surprisingly, some in the diaspora, in particular the leaders of the Ichkeria government in exile, while acknowledging the advantages of a single organization if it reflects their views are worried that any group like the proposed one may work for their opponents and marginalize rather than help them (

            The attractiveness and convenience of having a single group with which to deal is so great especially to outsiders that they may unwittingly promote an arrangement that will benefit their opponents, a danger that has been true in many conflicts and many diaspora communities around the world.

            Indeed, it is worth remembering that at the time of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, some Western observers pointed out that the only way Moscow could defeat the mujahidin was to get them to organize in a single group, an argument these observers made against those in the US and elsewhere who wanted to promote just that.

            Far better, these expert observers suggested, to suffer the obvious consequences of division among those opposed to the greatest threats rather than to promote a unity that would have less obvious but potentially more fateful negative consequences for precisely those the outsiders most wanted to help. 

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