Self-proclaimed emir of the North Caucasus appointed a younger man, Aslambek Vadalov, as the new chief, and requested rebel leaders from Dagestan and Kabardino-Balkaria to back him · He said he is to continue to wage jihad against Moscow · Umarov had claimed last March’s attacks in Moscow’s metro.
Doku Umarov, the main rebel leader of the pro-independence Chechen guerrilla announced last weekend he resigned from the post of leader of the non-recognised and self-proclaimed Emirate of the North Caucasus. He said he stepped down because of health reasons and argued that "jihad should be led by younger and more energetic commanders". In a video shot to announce his resignation at the Islamist website kavkazcenter.com [no longer available] he appointed Aslambek Vadalov as his successor, a younger and experienced chief who fought the Russians in the two wars waged against them in the 90's.
Umarov warned that in spite of his resignation he intends to continue to wage jihad: "I will do whatever I can by word and deed", he added. The video shows another top commander certifying support for Vadalov and appealing to the "brothers from Dagestan, Ingushetia and Kabardino-Balkaria to pledge loyalty" to Umarov's successor.
Doku Umarov was a member of the Aslan Maskhadov's government of the independent Chechen republic -Chechen Republic of Ichkeria- between 1997 and 1999. By 2005 he became president of a virtual and non-recognised republic, since pro-Russian elites took control of Grozni. In October 2007 Umarov proclaimed the Emirate of the North Caucasus, an Islamic state in which most of peoples and territories of the area were to take shelter. He divided the territory in wilayahs (provinces), one of which was called Chechnya, and proclaimed himself as emir.
Since then Doku Umarov led military operations of insurgents in several republics within the Caucasus, and claimed some of the most deadly Chechen attacks like the bombing last year of a civil train doing the Moscow-St Petersburg route, and the blasts in the metro of Moscow last March that killed 40 people.
Under Doku Umarov's leadership the Chechen insurgency moved on to a pan-Islamist ideology, leaving aside the struggle for an independent Chechen Republic and focusing on spreading the guerrilla fighting to the neighboring republics of Ingushetia and Dagestan.
Photo: Doku Umarov (Wikipedia).
See the dossier Peoples and nations today: Chechnya for further information.