The long-simmering conflict in the Russian Federation’s Chechen Republic appears to be playing itself out in Ukraine. As Vladimir Putin launched his invasion, the “official” (Moscow-installed) Chechen president Ramzan Kadyrov boasted that elements of the Russian National Guard from Chechnya are taking part in the “military operation.” The Chechen Republic of Ichkeria rebel government-in-exile meanwhile announced that volunteers from across the Chechen diaspora are preparing to fight for Ukraine. Two Chechen volunteer battalions have fought against Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine’s Donbas region since 2014. Most of their fighters fled Russia after the fall of the de facto independent government that controlled Chechnya between 1996 and 2000. (Photo of the the Sheikh Mansur Battalion: OC Media)
Russia announced plans to host an international “Anti-Fascist Conference“—with hideous irony, on the same day its forces bombarded a Holocaust memorial site in Kyiv. The surreal announcement came from Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who said Moscow will hold the conference in August, in conjunction with an arms expo sponsored by his ministry. Among the invited countries are China (accused of genocide in Xinjiang), India (now emulating China’s mass detention policies), Pakistan (a fast-consolidating police state), Saudi Arabia (similarly moving toward a mass detention state), the UAE (a burgeoning police state), Azerbaijan (accused of war crimes in last year’s war with Armenia), Uzbekistan (an entrenched dictatorship), and Ethiopia (accused of crimes against humanity in the Tigray war). (Photo of Babi Yar memorial in Kyiv via Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group)
Police and demonstrators clashed in Paris as some 45,000 filled the streets to protest a new security law, with large mobilizations also seen in Bordeaux, Lille, Montpellier and Nantes. The new law would severely restrict publishing of the images of police officers. The issue was given greater urgency by video footage of Paris police savagely beating local Black music producer Michel Zecler days earlier. President Emmanuel Macron said the images “shame us,” but critics point out that their release could have been barred if his new security law had already been in force. (Photo: @T_Bouhafs)
The Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation upheld a decision to draw a border between the republics of Ingushetia and Chechnya. In September the two republics signed an agreement to define the border between them. This was the first time that the border has been defined since the split of the Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic after the collpase of the USSR. The agreement became law in each republic in October, but a group of Ingush deputies challenged the law. The Chechen-Ingush border dispute has sparked violence in recent years, and been exploited by Islamists who seek to create a “Caucasus Emirate” covering both republics, a resurrection of the insurgent state established by Muslim rebels in the 19th century. (Map: Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection?)
A leading LGBT rights group projected messages for Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin in giant letters on the wall of the Presidential Palace in Helsinki hours before the summit between the two leaders was set to open. "Trump and Putin: Stop the Crimes Against Humanity in Chechnya," read one message displayed by the Human Rights Campaign. Other projections read: "The whole world is watching" and "Silence is deadly." The group said in a tweet ahead of the action: "Last year, reports surfaced of Chechen authorities rounding up and detaining more than 100 men who were suspected of being gay or bisexual and 20 have been murdered. Today HRC confronted Trump and Putin in Helsinki over these crimes against humanity." The statement continued: "For more than 15 months, @realDonaldTrump has refused to publicly condemn the systematic torture, abuse and murder of LGBTQ people occurring in Chechnya as Vladimir Putin has licensed the violence to continue." (Photo: Human Rights Campaign via Twitter)
The European Parliament overwhelmingly passed a resolution calling on Russian authorities to release Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, and all the other "illegally detained Ukrainian citizens" in Russia and Russia-annexed Crimea. Sentsov has been on hunger strike in a Russian prison since May 14, demanding the release 64 Ukrainian citizens he considers political prisoners. Sentsov was arrested in Crimea in 2014, after Russia seized the Ukrainian region. The 76 MEPs who voted against the resolution are either of far-right formations such as the French National Front, Germany's Alternative für Deutschland, the Greek Golden Dawn, Italy's Northern League, the Netherlands' Party for Freedom, and Britain's UK Independence Party; or "leftist" parties such as the French Left Front, Germany's Die Linke, the Greek Syriza, Italy's The Other Europe, and Spain's Podemos. (Photo via Kyiv Post)
Last year, horrific reports emerged from the southern Russian republic of Chechnya that authorities were rounding up gays in detainment camps and subjecting them to torture —the first time this kind of thing has happened in Europe since Nazi Germany. Now the reign of terror is being extended to drug users and small-time dealers, who are facing torture at the hands of Chechen security forces as part of the same ultra-puritanical campaign. Reports describe electric current being applied to suspects to induce them to “confess.” No one has survived without confessing, victims are told. (Map: Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection)
Alarming reports are emerging that Chechyna has opened “the first concentration camp for homosexuals since Hitler,” following a “gay purge” in the southern Russian republic. (Photo: Human Rights Campaign via Twitter)
Trump assistant Sebastian Gorka wears the medal of the Hungarian Order of Heroes, listed by the State Department as having collaborated with the Nazis during World War II.
Xi Jinping is weighing whether he will be invited to join the authoritarian New Order—or whether Putin will desert him for Trump, and the two of them will gang up on China.
Ukraine’s armed forces are on high alert and “full combat readiness” while Russia announced it has deployed long-range missile systems in annexed Crimea.
“Omar the Chechen,” a top-ranking ISIS commander apparently killed in a US air-strike in Syria, is said to have been trained by the Pentagon when he fought the Russians in Georgia. (Photo via Levant Report)