De-Bunkage: The Russified reporting of Shaun Walker on the North Caucasus
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By Cherneyy Koshka and Oriana P.
Time after time we find ourselves in a situation where Western commentators and journalists report on a situation outside of the Western hemisphere and consistently fall short on a true assessment of what is happening. Instead of simply listening to the voices that tell the truth, namely the very people fighting back against occupying and imperialist forces, they approach it from their Western viewpoint and from their geopolitical standpoint of “anti-imperialism”.
Hiding behind a thin veil of perceived neutrality and objectivity they only end up paying lip service to the imperialist forces that are holding people down. However, for those who know what's really going on, the devil is in the details. Their bias shines through in their choice of words and in the choice of what information is put forward and what is omitted but also in their unwillingness to dig deeper into the story and become informed about background information that is crucial to understanding the situation.
In this series local experts analyze the texts from these Western writers and correct those details that, taken together, are painting a wrong picture of the story.
Please note, because of security reasons many experts wish to remain anonymous. Furthermore, because of language barriers these experts rely on Western writers/activists to help them amplify their voices. However their analysis is theirs and theirs alone. The role of Western allies should be simply that, an ally. To help where help is needed and to step out of the way when called for.
The debunking of the text in the Guardian by Shaun Walker, "Murder in Istanbul, Kremlin's hand suspected in shooting of Chechen", is done by Chechen media activist, Cherneyy Koshka.
"The lack of principled assessment in the West contributed to the radicalization of the Chechen resistance...The radicalization didn't happen in a day and it didn't happen in a vacuum. We didn't ask for money or weapons, we only asked for an adequate assessment of what was happening and we never got that"
~ Ilyas Akhmadov in the "Chechen Struggle"
* "...a key Chechen Islamist figure who fought with an al-Qaida affiliate in Syria..."
"But the well-built Chechen, with short hair and a wispy ginger beard, was a key figure in the Chechen insurgency’s diaspora, associates said.”
--> No Chechen would describe themselves as an "insurgent". He goes from a descriptive word such as "Islamist" to "Insurgent". An Islamist is something very different from an insurgent but here these words apparently become interchangeable. An Insurgent is a person who rises in forceful opposition against lawful authority or an established government but Russia is not a lawful authority. It is an occupying force. There's more because Abdulvakhid Edelgireyev never described himself as an Islamist and his father never described him as such. Maybe Shaun is confusing "Islamic" with "Islamist"? However to describe a Chechen as Islamic is redundant because all Chechens are Muslim and thus Islamic. Of course, for Western biased writers it is useful to use the word "Islamist" because this is a gateway to use the word "insurgent" and from there the word "terrorist" is right around the corner. In other words, the Islamophobic "All Muslims are terrorists" is implied here.
* "Three of his brothers joined the insurgency, carrying out attacks on Russian forces."
--> In 1999 Russian terrorists invaded the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, there were no "insurgents". Instead there were Chechen armed forces and resistance fighters fighting the occupation of their sovereign nation. They had a democratically elected President, Aslan Maskhadov.
--> In 1999, the year after the start of the bombing of apartment complexes in different cities of Russia (where they found traces of FSB involvement instead of Chechen, which is widely assumed), Russia again attacked and invaded the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria and has ignited an even more ambitious war, which continues to this day. Source
* “To start with, Abdulvakhid was not a fighter, but he was abducted so many times by the security forces who wanted information on his brothers, that he eventually decided he would be better off going to the forest himself,” said his father, 71-year-old Alu Edelgireyev
-->Notice his father does no refer to him as an "insurgent". Furthermore, how does Shaun Walker justify describing the kidnapping and torture done to Abdulvakhid Edelgireyev by "Russian forces" and not calling these Russian forces terrorists?
Unfortunately, it's about the cynicism of real politics. I've had my own terrible experience when trying to find some influence in Western countries. I didn't succeed. Especially after 2001, when the US and European countries began to think the Russian Federation was their companion in their fight against terrorism. However, terrorism that appears in the North Caucasus and terrorism that appears in the Middle East are completely different. These terrorists have completely different causes.
Russia uses state terrorism against the civilian population and of course, for these reasons they pretend to have some kind of answers. The US or Western countries just closed their eyes for their own reasons and purposes. Even today no one who occupies an official position in the US or Western Europe will ever use the term "war crimes against civilian population" or "massive killings in Chechnya". A quarter of the Chechen population has been killed without any justice and all settlements have been destroyed by Russia. In 1999, Russia had only one problem, it was the Chechens, but Russian policy manufactures terrorism and now they have problems in all of the North Caucasus.
However, Russia has no program, mechanism or viewpoint to solve this problem. Recently, a bombing occured in the Domodedovo Airport in Moscow. It comes from Russian policy, but Russia always accuses different groups or states of terrorism. This is not true. And everybody in the West knows that it is not true. But they continue their game with Russia because they need Russian gas, petrol or some transit to Afghanistan. I believe that the West uses these positions and pushes Russia to have huge problems like these."
~ Ilyas Akhmadov (Feb. 2011)
"And now they call this an Anti-terrorist Operation, now don't they? I know the war will continue because it's not about destroying "terrorists" but about creating obedient people who do as they are told. There are artillery shells flying over my head every night here and it will stay like that as long as there are some that want to live in their own ways and not how the Kremlin wants. It's Russia's Imperialist mindset, it's a fact, it exists."
~ Petra Prohatskova, Czech journalist and humanitarian worker living in Johar (Grozny) - Chechen Lullaby 2001
* "....a key figure in the Caucasus Emirate, the umbrella group of Chechen and other fighters in Russia’s North Caucasus that has resorted to terrorist methods, including suicide attacks on Moscow’s metro and Domodedovo airport."
--> Shaun Walker chooses to describe specific terrorist attacks of the Caucasus Emirate but never mentions the specific acts of terrorism that these so called "Russian forces" did all these years, such as the bombings of targeted schools, markets, refugee buses trying to get to safety, etc...There's no talk whatsoever of specific acts of torture, extra-judicial killings, the ethnic cleansing of villages, the landmines on farmland,.. Are those not acts of terrorism and then with the full power of a militarized superstate behind them at that?
"Not that long ago, everyone was talking on radio and TV about the Holocaust and about Buchenwald. I am also against genocide. I feel genuine sympathy for those people. For their helplessness. But no one talks about the genocide of the Chechen people. No one mentions the concentration camps around Khankala and the Russian base at Lupoi...or around Kadyrov's castle at Khosi-Yurt where people are being dismembered"
~ Dokku Umarov
"...Chechen children, who died by the hand of the Russian army in autumn 1999. Their deaths did not warrant the call-up of the UN Security Council, and Dr. Roshal did not rush to the scene of the tragedy with water and medicines to try and persuade terrorists to spare children's lives. They were Chechen children, and Russia did not shudder at the horror of the crime it committed. It simply did not notice...Who has noticed the deaths of 40,000 Chechen children during the years of Russia's war against Chechnya? Where were then all those who today have brought down their righteous anger on the 'untermenschen' who are holding schoolchildren hostage in Beslan? Is it not hypocrisy to be upset about the possible deaths of some children and remain indifferent to the deaths of other?
~ Alexander Podrabinek, Prima Human Rights News Service, September 2004
AN OPEN LETTER TO CITIZEN PUTIN V.V.
Copied to all government institutions in Russia, to all political parties, human rights and other non-government organizations, the media and all those citizens of Russia and the world who care.
OPEN LETTER FROM “PEACE AND HUMAN RIGHTS”-I address this plea to the United Nations, European Union and other highest international institutions, with support of tens of thousands of people from all over the world. I am attaching the list of the crimes for your attention and launching investigation.
Said-Emin Ibragimov Requests International Criminal Court to Open a Criminal Case Against Putin (LETTER TO PROSECUTOR)- "...a request to open a criminal case proprio motu against President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin and military and political personnel of the Russian Federation who have committed heinous crimes, – Aggression, Genocide, Crimes Against Humanity, and War Crimes – against the Chechen people."
"This is monstrous injustice when the killing of one fourth of the entire population of Chechnya, shooting with all kinds of modern weapons, the bombing of cities and towns, kidnapping and murder, torture and extrajudicial executions, and many other totally unjustified crimes against the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria and its people is considered to be just an 'internal affair of Russia'."
Open Letter: Statement of Indefinite Protest - 6 November 2015
* "Edelgireyev’s experiences during his year in Syria also revealed how the Chechen resistance fight has slowly grown links to Islamic State..."
--> For a detailed look into those links and how they came to be please check out "Chechen Terrorists" or the North Caucasus resistance 101 for Plastic Brains. It was in fact the Russian FSB who was and still is behind the recruitment of the people of North Caucasus to go fight in Syria. This is also known as the Green Corridor to Ethnic Cleansing as was described in the article "Caliphate? The Lure for Fools!" by Elena Milashina in Novaya Gazeta.
* "Personal enemies of Chechnya’s Kremlin-backed leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, have been killed in Moscow, Vienna and Dubai; there are suspicions members of Kadyrov’s militias may have been involved. But Turkish prosecutors suspect the Istanbul murders may have the hallmarks of more centralised Russian hits.”
--> Ramzan Kadyrov is Putin's dog. No distinction should be made between Putin and Kadyrov. Kadyrov does everything Putin wants. He has murdered 30,000 Chechens for Putin's Russia.
"Ramzan Kadyrov's government is a Russian government. Ramzan Kadyrov is not an independent person, he is just a Russian clerk. And also, Ramzan Kadyrov is very convenient for everybody now. For example, if we take the West, whatever happens in Chechnya, they only speak about Kadyrov and just criticize him. Because of Ramzan Kadyrov's existence, the West has a good reason not to directly criticize Moscow, the Kremlin's policy or Russian war crimes in Chechnya. But on the other hand , Ramzan Kadyrov is one of the best tools for the Russian colonial policy in the North Caucasus and especially in Chechnya. Today, the Chechen people have no rights in Chechnya. The Chechen population has only one right, which is to be killed without any justice. Also, I believe that the pro-Russian government in Chechnya has destroyed the Chechen mentality and Chechen traditions."
~ Ilyas Akhmadov
"Kadyrov recognizes only Putin and spits at everyone else."
~ Alla Dudayeva
* "In the murders of three Chechens outside an Istanbul teahouse in 2011, Turkish authorities believed nine people were involved, including two alleged Russian agents who fled, leaving fake passports behind."
"The only man to be arrested for any of the killings is a shadowy figure who goes by the nickname “the Zone”. Believed to be Chechen, the Zone was apprehended trying to enter Istanbul on a fake Georgian passport in the name of Temur Makhauri in 2012. He is currently on trial in Istanbul for his alleged role in a number of the previous murders; the key evidence is secretly taped video of the Zone meeting with a man claimed to be an FSB agent and discussing the murders of Chechens. The prosecution is calling for a life sentence.”
--> This was reported on in the article "Chechen Terrorists" or the North Caucasus Resistance 101 for Plastic Brains. It can be found under the subheading "The Oath of the Mujahideen of the Caucasus to Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi".
The exiled Chechen Human Rights group in Turkey, Imkandar, released a video that was handed over to the Turkish Government. It was part of the evidence in their case against the FSB agent, Ruslan Papaskiri, (aka Ali Dabuev), who was found guilty of killing Chechens in exile. The video covers the FSB undercover hit men explaining in detail the fact that they have agents in Umarov's inner circles, who have "outstanding trust" within Caucasus resistance circles.
*..."local security forces loyal to pro-Kremlin leader Kadyrov used violent tactics to crush the insurgency..."
--> Kadyrov had a small clan fighting for him at that time but they weren't local. They were paid and active Russian military and mercenaries hired to murder Chechens. Shaun Walker continuous to refer to Ichkeria as Chechnya. The correct way to refer to the regional area is "The Chechen Republic of Ichkeria" or "Occupied Chechnya". Not doing so is recognizing it as part of the Russian Federation, which is of course Russian propaganda. Ichkeria is occupied by Russia.
* "until a year ago, recruiters for Isis and other rebel groups would solicit Chechens in Istanbul quite openly, although they have now moved more underground. Russian security services have estimated there are at least 2,000 people of Russian origin fighting in Syria, mainly from the North Caucasus."
--> Not one time does he mention it was the Russian FSB who was doing the recruiting in North Caucasus. Again, for more information: "Chechen Terrorists" or the North Caucasus resistance 101 for Plastic Brains. This operation is the so called Green Corridor to Ethnic Cleansing (as shown above in the source link)
* "....there was an acrimonious split when Omar al-Shishani, a Georgian-born Chechen who had previously served in the US-trained Georgian army, decided to merge the group with Isis."
--> Omar al-Shishani isn't a Chechen. He is a Georgian. His father is a Georgian Orthodox Christian and his deceased mother was a non-practicing muslim Kist. Nothing in his personal heritage makes him a Chechen. The fact that this very important information is missing is crucial because it poses the question of why journalists are not asking these specific kinds of questions e.g. why is Omar lying about being a Chechen? Not only does he lie but he and many others in his circles are making a deliberate effort to be seen as Chechen by taking the surname "al-Shishani", which means "the Chechen" in Arabic. His real name is Tarkhan Tayumurazovich Batirashvili, which could be either a Kist or a Georgian name. However, his father is an ethnic Georgian.
"...after migrating to Georgia, the Kists started adding the Georgian endings to their patrimonial names, particularly suffix -shvili (meaning "child" in Georgian), or sometimes suffix -dze (which means "son' in Georgian), or still other times the Georgian suffix -uli (indicating "belonging to' or "descend from"). In this manner, Kist family names were established."
* “Our struggle was always about Russia, he wasn’t interested in Isis,” said his father."
--> Notice how his father correctly refers to the Chechen fight against Russia as specifically a struggle? Why is it that Western writers and commentators consistently fail to do so?
* "In recent months, some of the remaining mid-level Caucasus Emirate commanders still active in Chechnya and the other mountainous republics of southern Russia have pledged their allegiance to Isis, causing a split in the movement. A source in Istanbul linked to the insurgency said: “The fight in Syria and the seeping of Islamic State ideology back to the Caucasus has harmed our image a lot. We are trying to bring everyone back together and make a joint statement that our main and only enemy is Russia.”
--> Again no mention whatsoever of Russia's FSB involvement with recruiting in North Caucasus. Shaun Walker is clearly missing the necessary background information to put this in proper perspective. For the people of North Caucasus it is incredible frustrating to experience how the whole world has consistently ignored the genocide of their peoples for the past 21 years. All the West does is turn its head, which amounts to complicity.
Quote from Dagestan's wing of the Caucasus Emirate following the Boston Bombings:
"The Command of the Province of Dagestan indicates in this regard that the Caucasian Mujahideen are not fighting against the United States of America. We are at war with Russia, which is not only responsible for the occupation of the Caucasus, but also for heinous crimes against Muslims.
Also, remember that even in respect to the enemy state of Russia, which is fighting the Caucasus Emirate, there is an order by the Emir Dokku Umarov, which prohinits strikes on civilian targets.
In this regard, the Command of the Mujahideen of the province of Dagestan urges the media, primarily the American, to halt speculations and promotion of Russian propaganda.
If the US government is really interested in estblishing the true organizers of the Boston bombings, and not in complicity with the Russian show, it should focus on the involvement of Russian security services in the events."
* "Earlier this year, Edelgireyev got the opportunity to fight the old enemy again,"
--> It is laughable he describes Russia as "the old enemy". Russia is still the enemy and has been for over 300 years now until they stop the perpetual invasions and occupation of the Caucasus.
* "The Ukrainians told the Chechens it would look bad if the west found out they had “terrorists” in their midst, he said."
--> All who are part of the resistance to Russia's occupation in North Caucasus are labeled as "terrorists" by Russia. Why would Ukraine use this as a reason? This makes no sense whatsoever.
As a matter of fact Ukraine recently held a dedication to the Chechens who have volunteered to help fight the Russian invaders of their country.
Here are some video's from that event for Mr. Walker and for The Guardian:
* "Özer insisted the group “completely rejects attacks on civilians”, although a resolution of a 2012 conference on the Caucasus held in Istanbul, organised by Imkander and chaired by Özer, states: “We salute Doku Umarov and the other mujahideen, who are continuing the sacred battle of our ancestors in the Caucasus mountains today"."
--> He keeps talking how civilians are being attacked by the Caucasus Emirate but says nothing about the 300,000 Chechens the Yeltsin/Putin war machine has murdered, including 42,000 children. This is clearly taking a side and it's the wrong one at that unless there's a clear motive to defend or apologize for an occupying force where all ethics can be overlooked.
* “We remember that the militants who operated in the North Caucasus in the 1990s and 2000s found refuge and received moral and material assistance in Turkey,” said Putin. “We still find them there.”
Militants? Ichkeria was a souvereign country with its own military. A military that won a war against Imperialist Russia in 1996.
* On his Twitter account Shaun Walker claims he just wrote a "recap of all the facts". After this short analysis it is clear that his "facts" are actually a grotesque distortion of truth that compounds to nothing but vulgar propaganda.
* The allegation that he is a Russophobe doesn't stand either. On the contrary, his writings are what a typical Russian propagandist writes.
..." I started to think it was like a moral duty to go there to try to photograph and show the truth, I was very idealistic - I thought: "Ah, I'll show the truth, I'll make this book, do exhibitions, get published into magazines"...and that people would get upset and try to stop this killing, this genocide...that they would see the truth, there's the truth, in black and white, in color, whatever you know? It didn't work out that way and for the last 10 years that's what I've been waging, my own personal battle. Now here's Putin, who is a war criminal...somebody who crawled out from underneath a rock for firing two guided missiles when he was prime minister and acting President into the central market where there was no rebels, just people trying to buy food to put on the table for their families like anyone or anybody else who has a family...but they do not live under the threat of Russian guns shooting them down or bombs blowing them up or capturing them and putting them in concentration camps. You can go to your corner market and buy the goods but for the Chechens it's a very arduous kind of journey. There are over 400 checkpoints inside Chechnya, there's over 100 in Grozny and you have to give bribes to Russian military to get through cross points so it's a rather expensive proposition just to go out and buy a loaf of bread. Let's put it this way...we know what Stalin was capable of, we know what Hitler did, so if we say that Putin could be Stalin incarnate wouldn't it be a moral duty to kill him before he kills more people?...responsible for 300,000 deaths...for all that bombing and death and destruction...economics, oil, death, destruction, murder for political gain, financial gain - the worst reasons in the World and these people should be sent straight to hell"
~ Open Wounds by Stanley Greene, War Photographer
Remembering Chechnya with Stanley Greene, War Photographer P1:
In conclusion, it is important for Western journalists to realize that the peoples of the North Caucasus will never let anyone get away with ignoring the ongoing crimes Russia is doing to them. Western journalists will always be called out when their reporting smells of bias.
"ICHKERIA WILL RETURN!! Chechens Protest Against Russian Terror and Violence in Occupied Chechnya"