Ruslan Kutaev. Photo by Magomed Magomedov for the ‘Caucasian Knot’.

08 July 2014, 23:56

Ruslan Kutaev's last plea

The speech of Ruslan Kutaev at the Urus-Martan City Court of the Chechen Republic, July 4, 2014. Ruslan Kutaev is the President of the international public-political movement "Assembly of Caucasian Nations", head of the international committee on North Caucasus problems. Kutaev has been kept under arrest since February 20, 2014 on charges of illegal drug possession. On June 19, 2014,  the Human Rights Centre (HRC) "Memorial" recognized Kutaev to be a political prisoner. On July 7 he was sentenced to four years of imprisonment in general regime colony.

Over the 4 months that I spent behind bars, I had enough time to analyze my life. I'm almost 60 years old, but I would like to tell just one episode of my life and explain why I associate it with the today's trial. It was in 1982, when I was a student of the Ivanovo Chemical-Technological Institute, where we held a party of peoples' friendship. At the party the nations of the USSR demonstrated their achievements. Moldovans and Georgians presented their wines; Armenians – their cognacs; Kabardians – their horses; Turkmens also showed their pedigree horses, and so on. And all of them exhibited large showcases.

And when I went out alone to represent my republic – the Chechen-Ingushetia – the audience looked at me puzzled, because my fellow countrymen did not carry any exhibition stands behind me. I deliberately made a pause and addressed the public: 'Dear friends! Here today we are talking about our achievements. We also have them, but since here we talk about our greatest achievements, about the most intimate, strong, respected and dignified we have, I've gone out and stand before you to demonstrate the best thing that Chechens have. This is I, myself, a Chechen – the only nation of the USSR, which has never been conquered – the only nation that has never had any princes and khans, any becks, kings or sultans. And I'm standing here in front of you – a representative of the free Chechen-Ingush nation.'

The audience applauded to me standing, because they knew me. They knew that I'm a friend; that I'll never betray and I'll always be nearby. I was then, Your Honour, 23 years old. A lot of time expired since then – over 30 years. I've always been proud genetically and even boasted a bit that I am a Chechen; because for me it is a synonym of freedom – an incredibly clearly indicated notion of justice and honour. Being now a veteran, reach with experience, a public figure, a politician and a philosopher, standing here inside this cage, I repeat: I'm a free Chechen. I have nobody to apologize to for my betrayal. I have many friends – here, in this courtroom and outside – there are my friends, namely, my school friends, those with whom I studied at the institute and served in the army – friends from all the countries of the former USSR. They all support me, because I never betrayed them and never changed my viewpoints.

I understand that troubled times happened in the history of all nations. To my great regret, my republic has a troubled time NOW. And in troubled times, one has to pay for one's position; therefore, I'm now here.

Your Honour! Finally I want to say. Firstly, I am grateful to you. You always gave a chance to my relatives to see me. Thank you.

Secondly, if you release me right in this courtroom, I won't be surprised at all, because I am innocent. If you convict me to any term, I won't be surprised at all, because to be a Chechen, to be a man of honour, to be honest and fair – one has to pay a high price for that today; therefore, I'll take calmly any decision of yours."

Author: Ruslan Kutaev; Source: Committee against Torture

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