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World’s largest Chechen resistance banner unrolled in Kyiv (PHOTOS)

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A man sings an insurgent Chechen anthem as he waves the Ichkeria banner at the Maidan Nezalezhnosti Square in Kyiv on Aug. 13.
Photo by Oleg Petrasiuk

The world’s largest flag of Ichkeria, a Chechen anti-Kremlin breakaway republic in Russia’s Northern Caucasus, was spread out in Kyiv on Aug. 13.

A giant green banner sized 22 by 33 meters, with red and white stripes and a coat of arms depicting a Caucasian wolf, was spread out by Ukraine’s Presidential Regiment servicemen during a rally at Maidan Nezalezhnosti Square.

The meeting was kicked off by Chechen activists living in Ukraine, particularly by those opposing the Kremlin-supported authoritarian regime of Ramzan Kadyrov in Chechnya and seeking independence from Russia to impose a secular democratic republic.

The Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, formerly an autonomy within Russia, was pronounced following the downfall of the Soviet Union in 1991. However, it remained unrecognized and was eventually crushed down by Russian federal troops after two devastating wars of 1994-1996 and 1999-2000, known for widespread war crimes and atrocities.

Following the beginning of Russia’s war in Donbas, many of exiled Chechen fighters and activists joined Ukraine’s forces in fighting against Russian-backed militants, forming the Dzhokhar Dudaev Battalion named after the first president of Ichkeria, killed by Russian airstrike in April 1996.

“This rally symbolizes the fact that despite all efforts, our enemies failed to break our will for victory and our spirit,” Amina Okueva, a former Dzhokhar Dudaev Battalion fighter said on the event’s Facebook page.

Also, the meeting takes place amid 21st anniversary of retaking the capital city of Grozny by the Chechen militia. During an assault campaign between Aug. 6-20, 1996, just 850 guerilla fighters managed to defeat 6,000 heavily armed Russian troops deployed in the destroyed city and build on the progress to making Moscow sign the Khasavyurt Accord ending the First Chechen War.  

Since Chechens is predominantly a Muslim nation, an Islamic prayer for those fighting for freedom was delivered at Maidan Nezalezhnosti Square by Ukraine’s Mufti Said Ismagilov.

The meeting at the Maidan Nezalezhnosti Square was also attended by the Georgian National Legion, a combat unit formed by citizens of Georgia fighting on the eastern front as an integrated company within the Ukraine’s Armed Forces 54th Brigade.

Also, as a representative of another nation whose land is now also occupied by Russia, Refat Chubarov, chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People, labeled as an extremist organization in Russian Federation, delivered a speech at the rally.

“Starting from the moment the Russian army began killing their own citizens, when it invaded the sovereign nations of Georgia, Ukraine, annexed the Crimea, Russia got on a path of breakdown and self-destruct,” the Crimean leader said. “Soon it will disintegrate, and dozens of independent states with unroll their flags of freedom in their streets and squares.”

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