The other day the Chechen social media page vk.com/karfagen was banned.
This is not surprising, considering that it was genuinely extremist from head to toe, though it is perhaps telling of the Russian state’s priorities that it took longer for Roskomnadzor to catch onto them than it did for it to illegally block the moderate Russian nationalist website Sputnik i Pogrom.
The ban came a few hours after a Meduza article by Daniil Turovsky on the webside, which was translated into English by Kevin Rothrock. The website, allegedly run by a 19 year old Chechen student, was devoted to harassing young women who shared “immoral” photos on social media, including posting their addresses and relatives’ contact details. If that resulted in honor killings, that’s just too bad, one of the Carthage activists shouted in all caps: “IF I FIND OUT THAT SOME VAINAKH FAMILY HAS KILLED THEIR OWN DAUGHTER FOR SOME SERIOUS OFFENSE, THEN I WILL STAND UP AND APPLAUD, BECAUSE IT’S THE RIGHT THING TO DO.” Women were forbidden from commenting.
Apart from doing their bit to make White Sharia real in Chechnya, the Carthage activists also embraced a sort of horseshoe theory Islamism (“You’re trying to distort our religion, publicly promoting the slogan ‘Islam is a religion of peace and good’”), as well as ultranationalist rhetoric. As with women, this extended to website administration; a tenth of the user base identified as Russians were kicked out in September. This is connected with Carthage billing itself as a “youth movement for the purification of the Vainakh people.” They did not mince words about their opinions of the Russian kuffar, who “pair off with anyone they want like animals” and “conceive children in the nightclub toilets.” Although they don’t promote Chechen independence, that is clearly driven by pragmatic reasons: “Chechnya is currently a subject of the Russian Federation, and it would be foolish of me to promote separatism among the masses.”
Now one might perhaps rejoinder that these are just some isolated nutjobs. One can mention the usual canard that there are Christian and non-Chechen extremists too.
But here’s the key difference: The 55,000 membership of Carthage on Vkontakte at the time of its closure represents 3.5% of all the Chechens in Russia.
For an online community where joining is entirely voluntary – i.e., the opposite of Kadyrov’s rallies – and not even entirely riskless, given the propensity of the most outspoken Islamists to be “disappeared” within Chechnya, these are astounding figures.
For comparison, the far right Ukrainian organization Right Sector on vk.com also has around 50,000 people while drawing from 30 times the population. Sputnik i Pogrom itself, perhaps the most popular Russian “extremist” resource, has around 110,000 supporters on that platform.
Even “normie” Ukrainian mass movements that dominated the headlines for months on end in 2013-2014 such as Euromaidan and Antimaidan still have 600,000 and 500,000 supporters, respectively, constituting about 1% of Ukraine’s population each, despite both movements also having a substantial international component.
Nor is this confined to Chechnya; earlier this year, Meduza had also reported on Chechen thot patrols harassing and threatening Chechen women who got too friendly with the kuffar, a story that got picked up in the Western alternate media. Carthage also had plans to expand to Ingushetia and Dagestan, at least before it was shut down. (There is also a Tatar “analogue” to Carthage called TTM, which remains accessible to date, though it only has 1,200 followers and my cursory examination of it suggests it’s more in the vein of /pol/-style trolling than hardcore Islamist nationalism).
All of this indicates that Carthage is the genuine voice of the Chechen people, as grassroots as the 1.8% interethnic marriage rates of Chechen women in Russia.
Once the Putin-Kadyrov “special relationship” breaks down due to political or actuarial factors, a new generation of skinny jeans wearing, organic food court-frequenting Russians will have to reenter political negotiations with a new generation of young, Internet-savvy Chechens who are more into stonings for adultery in the Caucasus Emirate.