DUBAI, April 5 (RIA Novosti) – Chechnya’s leader Ramzan Kadyrov has dismissed Chechens fighting in Syria as merely mercenaries “fighting for money and not an idea,” and said they have nothing to do with his republic.
“Everything you hear is complete nonsense,” Kadyrov said in an interview with SkyNewsArabia television channel in the United Arab Emirates.
Last year, the Syrian government presented the UN Security Council with lists of hundreds of foreign nationals who had been killed fighting against government troops in Syria. The lists included mercenaries from Arab countries, Europe, and Russia’s North Caucasus region, including Chechnya.
“They represent neither our people, nor our religion,” Kadyrov said, adding Chechen fighters in Syria would be “personally hunted down” if they decide to return to Chechnya.
Kadyrov and his late father, Akhmad, fought with the separatist rebels in Chechnya against Russia in the first Chechen war (1994-1996) before later changing sides and fighting alongside Russian Federal forces against the separatists.
About 70,000 people have died in Syria since the start of the uprising against President Bashar Assad in March 2011, according to UN estimates.