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It is high time for the West to understand - it is impossible to eliminate terrorism, unless we do it together

Ahmed Chatayev. Photo: kommersant.ru

The recent gun and bomb attack on Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport has sparked a political scandal in Georgia. The “detonator” of that scandal was Ahmed Chatayev, the suspect for the Istanbul attacks. The man is well known to both terrorists and the security services engaged in anti-terrorist activity. Nicknamed “One-Handed Ahmed,” Chatayev had close ties with both Ahmed Zakayev and Doku Umarov, after the latter’s death he joined the “Islamic State” (Daesh) - an organization that was globally recognized as a terrorist organization.  

Chatayev’s actions have made the world blame Georgia for indirect complicity in global terrorism, since not only has he visited Georgia for several times, but also was naturalized in that Caucasian country. Some Georgian politicians confirm these reports, while others deny. There are politicians who deny any responsibility for the terrorist’s actions. In this light, what Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of the Chechen Republic, said seems quite interesting: “Who is Chatayev? A citizen of Austria who has a passport of the Georgian citizen and knows Saakashvili personally. Within 13 years, the special services of Belgium, Sweden, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Georgia, and Turkey have dealt with Chatayev. He had a green light everywhere! He left Russia as an ordinary bandit. He turned into a terrorist in Austria, Georgia, and Turkey.”

One can think of Ramzan Kadyrov anything one likes, but he is extremely competent when it comes to Chechens. Chatayev’s ties with former president of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili and his joining the security services accountable to Saakashvili were confirmed also by Irakli Sesiashvili, the head of the Parliamentary Committee for Security and Defense.

Ahmed Chatayev became popular after the operation of the Georgian security services in Lopota Gorge, where the Chechen militants and the Georgian law-enforcers clashed and there were casualties on both the sides. The real reason behind those clashes is still unknown. It is obvious that armed militants could not be in the territory of Georgia without the knowledge of Saakashvili who treated such people with open amiability. Why specifically he ordered to liquidate them remains unknown. Saakashvili’s impulsive and inadequate behavior should not be ignored either. They said Chatayev was a negotiator for releasing one of the groups of the local villagers taken captive, but he joined militants, was wounded in the leg, and hid in the forest.

Ahmed Chatayev was arrested later for obtaining and keeping explosives. Doctors had to amputate his wounded foot while he was in custody. It was not for the first time that he was in the Georgian prison.  In 2010, he was transferred to Georgia by Ukraine’s authorities. After a while, Chatayev went at large, married and settled in Georgia. In 2011, he left the country and arrived back in the spring of 2012.  Jailed for the second time, he did not stay long in custody.  The new government of the Georgian Dream Party set him free as a victim of Saakashvili’s regime. New Minister of Justice Tea Tsulukiani rejected Russia’s request for Chatayev’s extradition saying “it is time to end the tradition of extraditing the Chechen citizens of Russia.”

There is nothing unusual in that statement. Chatayev was patronized by too powerful forces that easily settled all his problems at many European countries. The Austrian government even granted him a political refugee status. In 2015, UN designated Chatayev as a terrorist and put him on the Sanction Lists of individuals.

What the Georgian Dream did is a brilliant opportunity for Saakashvili to blame his rivals for supporting global terrorism and to recall that he was against releasing Chatayev.

"After the change of government in 2012, the new Georgian government immediately released Chatayev, since many of the new government leaders proclaimed him a political prisoner. I was still president, and strongly objected to its release, but the conviction was quashed by the Prosecutor's Office,” Mikheil Saakashvili said. 

This is profanity to speak so after the death of Sulkhan Molashvili, the former head of the Control Chamber of Georgia, who was jailed immediately after the United National Movement and was severely tortured there, which became the reason of that still young man’s poor health and then death.  Terrorism is not only international, it can be internal too, and terrorist Saakashvili’s hypocrisy over Chatayev is disgusting.

This is how Irakli Sesiashvili responded to the former president of Georgia: “Saakashvili and his team made that dirty provocation against the authorities and the country. The United National Movement uses all possible means to discredit the ruling team on the international arena. The former authorities used Chatayev in the dirty undertaking called Lapankuri operation and then tried to get rid of him.”

“When a NATO and EU country grants him a political shelter, we support that regime, indeed… The former government granted him the Georgian citizenship and our government could not transfer its citizens to anyone – it is a usual constitutional commitment,” he said.

This statement by Irakli Sesiashvili has unveiled the bitter truth i.e. the Georgian government is not free in its decisions unless there is a consent of NATO and EU.

Prime Minister of Georgia Giorgi Kvirikashvili banned any political statements around Chatayev unless the investigation in the Istanbul attacks is over.  Taking a stance of a third-party observer, President Giorgi Margvelashvili urged the United National Movement and Georgian Dream not to blame each other and think of the country’s interests first. In simple terms, it was nothing but an attempt to hush them up. This means that the authorities of Georgia really have something to hide.

Head of the Russian Delegation to OSCE PA Nikolay Kovalev said Russia has been demanding within 13 years that the criminal was extradited. Meantime, scarcely had the criminal said he allegedly lost his hand in the Russian camps, he was granted a political refugee status.

“Let us establish cooperation at least in the fight against terrorism. It is a colossal strategic mistake of Europe to refuse from cooperation in the fight against terror and this will result in more human deaths. I repeat, Russia has been demanding the terrorist’s extradition for 13 years. We had all the chances to prevent the Istanbul attacks. It was just necessary to cooperate,” Nikolay Kovalev said.

If the world really wants to eliminate the deadly danger of terrorism, there is no alternative to cooperation!

Irakli Chkheidze for EADaily

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