Akhmed Zakaev

Akhmed Zakaev is the Prime Minister in Exile of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria (CRI). He was born in 1959 into a family deported by Stalin’s regime, along with the rest of the Chechen population, in 1944. Zakaev graduated from acting and choreography schools in Voronezh and Moscow and became an actor, specializing in Shakespearean roles. In 1994 he became Minister of Culture in the independent Chechen government of Djohar Dudaev, and during the First Russo-Chechen War was commander of the Western Group for the Defence of Ichkeria.

Akhmed Zakaev

Russia, Chechnya, and the West: 2000–2006

Hardback £63.30

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ISBN: 9781680532715
21 photographs
588 pages

Translated by Arch Tait

When Vladimir Putin became President of Russia in 2000, his first priority was to re-establish the intelligence agencies’ grip on the country by portraying himself as a strongman protecting Russian citizens from security threats. Despite condemnation by the United Nations, the European Parliament, and European Union, the policy of brutal ‘ethnic cleansing’ in Chechnya continued. For Putin, Islamist attacks on the United States of September 11, 2001, were a welcome opportunity to rebrand the war against Chechen independence, not as the crushing of a democracy, but as a contribution to President George W. Bush’s ‘War on Terror’.

In the years that followed, Putin’s regime covertly supported and manipulated extremist factions in Chechnya and stage-managed terrorist attacks on its own citizens to justify continuing aggression. US and European condemnation of Russian atrocities in Chechnya dwindled as Russia continued to portray Chechen independence as an international terrorist threat. Russia increased its oppressive operations.

Akhmed Zakaev’s memoirs are an essential document for anyone who wishes to understand the fate of Chechnya in modern times and the rise of Vladimir Putin. Zakaev was an adroit political strategist at a time when Russia was seeking to wipe out Chechen independence once and for all. He is also an acute analyst of international affairs. He observed earlier than most that Russia in the post-Boris Yeltsin years was heading in an authoritarian and dangerously chauvinist direction. Putin — a ‘spawn of the KGB’, in Zakaev’s damning phrase — had a darker vision for Russia’s future, in which law and human rights counted for little.
Luke Harding, the Guardian. Author of Shadow State: Murder, Mayhem and Russia’s Remaking of the West.

… Zakaev’s bravery, common sense, humanity and intelligence … a Hamlet who became a man of action because he realised that there was something very rotten in the state of Russia.
Martin Dewhirst, Salisbury Review.


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Updated : 9 January 2023