Son of slain president dreams of a better tomorrow
Anneli Ahonen / Helsingin Sanomat, 25.06.2008
“I want to speak about the victims of the war. The fate of the civilian population is the hardest of all, because they have to suffer and flee their homes,” says Anzor Maskhadov.
He was speaking at a civic forum meeting on democracy and human rights in Russia in June in Suomenlinna, Helsinki.
Anzor is the son of Aslan Maskhadov, former President of Chechnya. Russian security forces killed the rebel president in 2005 in the village of Tolstoy-Yurt.
In Suomenlinna, Anzor Maskhadov is not just any guest: His security is being protected. A “friend” in civilian clothes leads him to the interview and patiently waits beside him.
Maskhadov says he thinks like his father.
“When I speak, I speak like him. People have come to me with ideas that I should join politics. I have not wanted to take that step, but one never knows what tomorrow brings.”
Maskhadov goes around the question of independence for his country.
“When my father once proposed peace to Russia, he was killed. Almost half the population of our republic has left the country. All of them await the moment when the situation will improve. Then there will be no Kadyrovs whom Russia uses as its executioners.”
Maskhadov is one of many who have fled Chechnya. He and his family now live in Norway, where they have received asylum.
The war in Chechnya has forced some 300,000 people to leave their homes. Around 100,000 people died in conflict.
Since the start of reconstruction work, people have slowly begun to return home, but tens of thousands of people still live in internal exile in Chechnya, Ingushetiya, and Dagestan.
In addition, there are Chechen refugees in Georgia, Azerbaidzhan, Europe, and the United States. Finland has granted asylum to 30 Chechens so far this year.
Maskhadov wishes to support asylum seekers.
“Russia claims that everything is alright in our country. The authorities escort foreign visitors along repaired streets. On their return home, they imagine that there is peace and calm throughout the republic.”
He does not expect much from the West.
“We used to believe that the West would finally open its mouth and tell Russia to stop the bloodshed. We no longer have any hopes for this to happen.”
[Translation: Kerkko Paananen]