Russia: News Broadcast Tells of How Diamonds Funded Weapons in Chechnya

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RAPAPORT…  In excerpts from Novosti television news in Russia, the journalists reported on how foreign services attempted to separate Chechnya from Russia in the 1990s.

BBC News translated the newscast from local languages into English, and provided the following transcript that mentions how diamond trading played into the movement:

…One of the most secret financial deals started back in the time of Dzhokhar Dudayev, and continues to the present day.

In 1992, diamonds which had been brought to Chechnya from Northern Russia began to be smuggled out via Groznyy’s airport. The only demand made on the Chechens was unhindered transit for the stones via the Servernyy [Northern] airport in Groznyy, without any inspections. In exchange, Berkan says that Dzhokhar Dudayev got 25 percent of the profit after the diamonds had been cut and sold on the Antwerp market.

[Berkan Yashar, captioned as speaking in Istanbul, dubbed into Russian] The profit was spent on buying weapons, and then it was brought into Chechnya via Georgia. It was not really that much money: Ten, 15 or 20 million dollars.

[Journalist] After the start of active military action and the complete closure of the airport in 1994, Berkan changed his scheme for smuggling diamonds. They started to be sent abroad via mountain paths instead of by air, through the Pankisi Gorge.

Akhmed is one of Dudayev’s close associates. He agreed to this conversation in a European country on the condition that we would not show his face, that we would conceal his real name and disguise his voice. There was recently an assassination attack on him. It was a miracle he survived. The thing is that the bloody story of Chechen diamonds continues to this day.

[Akhmed, captioned as a member of Dudayev’s security service, voice disguised and appearance not shown, over footage of diamond mining in Africa] The money raised during the period from the first to the second war was invested in African countries. That development is going on today.

Additional reporting by Dialog Newsedge

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