The appeal of the Free Nations League to Pope Francis

Your Holiness, Pope Francis,

We would like to take this opportunity to assure you of our utmost respect.

The Free Nations League, which unitesTatars, Bashkirs, Buryats, Yakuts, Kalmyks, Chechens, Erzyans, Mokshans, Cossacks and Ingrians in their struggle for their rights to self-determination, would like to address the interview published in America Magazine, dated November 28, 2022 in which you speak about Chechens and Buryats.

“When I speak about Ukraine, I speak about the cruelty because I have much information about the cruelty of the troops that come in. Generally, the cruelest are perhaps those who are of Russia but are not of the Russian tradition, such as the Chechens, the Buryats and so on.”

The Free Nations League deems this statement to be demeaning and offensive. It is difficult for us to understand how a world-class religious leader such as yourself could offer up such a generalization.

We do not demand an apology or kind words from you, we do not need insincerity for amelioration’s sake, and moreover, we will not tell you about the ancient culture of our peoples and our respective faiths; Muslim and Buddhist. However, with your permission, we would like to focus on your words about “Russian tradition” and how you compare that with the “cruelty of our peoples”. Indeed, it shares the same tone of what a Spanish conquistador in the New World or a tsarist official in Warsaw would have said.

The so-called “Russian tradition” that you allude to is singularly responsible for:

  • the destruction of 25% of the civilian population of Chechnya during the First and Second Russian-Chechen wars,  
  • the murder of thousands of Chechen children at the hands of Russian soldiers. The practice of hostage-taking, kidnapping, torturing and the selling of their corpses to their relatives for cash,  
  • the massacre by Russian soldiers in Novye Ady and Samashki which were deemed to be war crimes in the European Court of Human Rights and other international institutions,  
  • the demoralizing colonial position of the Buryat people, who have been deprived of all rights enjoyed by their neighbors and brothers in an independent Mongolia, the total Russification of their national education system and the systematic destruction of the Buryat language,  
  • the ban on Buryat political parties, organizations and religious freedom,  
  • forced coercion of the Buryats into a position of economic destitution by creating conditions in which the only social and economic ladder is through the imperial army,  
  • the wholesale and forced conscription of Buryat men by the Russian state who sweeps out entire areas inhabited by Buryats to make them take part in an aggressive and illegal war against Ukraine

If the examples of distant Muslims and Buddhists are alien and incomprehensible, then one must look at what the “Russian tradition” is doing in Ukraine.

Do the Buryats and Chechens give orders to launch rockets at civilian targets, to bomb maternity hospitals and schools? Do we kidnap and take hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian children to Russia or carry out deportations in the occupied territories?

Look into the eyes of this ‘tradition’ — these are Russian eyes.


The appeal was signed by representatives of national movements:

Signatures (See original: )


See Russian version: