Thursday, April 6, 2023

Chechnya Not the Pro-War Bastion Moscow Presents It as Being, Sevrinovsky Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Apr. 3 – If one were to believe Moscow or Grozny, Chechnya is the most pro-war republic in the Russian Federation, but neither statistics about Chechen participation in the conflict nor the attitudes Chechens express confirm this. Instead, they suggest just the opposite that Chechnya may be among the most anti-war places within Russia’s current borders.

            Vladimir Sevrinovsky, a journalist for the Cherta news agency, says that data do not confirm claims that Chechens have played an especially large role in the fighting in Ukraine on the Russian society, that Chechens are more involved in war crimes than Russians or that Chechens particularly support the war (

            According to the journalist, the share of Chechen dead among Russian dead is “only one percent,” approximately the same as the share of Chechens in the Russian population. There is no confirmation that they have engaged in war crimes more often, or that the Chechens are animated by a desire to join up and kill Russia’s enemies as Moscow claims.

            Moreover, Sevrinovsky says, “the real attitudes in Chechnya are far from what is presented by propaganda.” In September 2022, Chechen women went into the street to protest mobilization plans; and while the Kadyrov regime arrested them, it also cancelled mobilization on Chechen territory (

            Chechens have told him that most Chechens sympathize with those Chechens who have gone to Ukraine not to fight for Russia but to fight against Russia and that those who have joined the Russian military have done so either because of poverty – about 300,000 Chechens live below the poverty line – or because of direct threats by officials.

            And Moscow statistics showing that volunteers are coming to the Russian army from Chechnya are a nonsense: On the one hand, most of the volunteers Moscow counts as Chechens come from other regions and only spend one or two weeks in the Gudermes training center; and on the other, the Wagner group did not recruit anyone from Chechen prisons until it had done so everywhere else (

            The Cherta journalist tried to find Chechens who would speak in favor of the war but couldn’t. But he had no difficulty finding those opposed to the conflict and supporting Chechens who support Ukraine. He quotes the words of three of them extensively:

·       A pensioner says that no one should think all Chechens support the war anymore than they would think that all Russians do. Indeed, she says, “I am 200 percent certain that there is no other region as opposed to the war as Chechnya is,” adding that “I do not know any Chechens who approve this war, but nothing depends on the people.”

·       An opposition journalist says that Chechens who hear Russian propaganda about their support of Putin’s war are “in shock.” Nothing and no one can make Chechens forget what Russian forces did to them in the past.”

·       And a public activist who is generally pro-Russian observes that “the majority of Chechens and Ingush aren’t moved by the global goals of the war in Ukraine … Geopolitics and public opinioin are different things: in geopolitics there is no justice, honor or dignity. The Chechen people is absolutely solid against this war. This conflict is something alien to them.”


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