Were the local authorities aware of the Chechen punitive expedition to Dijon? According to information from Franceinfo, the domestic intelligence service sent an alarmist note entitled “Chechens: call for punitive expedition to Dijon”, on Friday June 12, on the day when violence broke out in the Grésilles district.
The warning followed the traditional circuit: It was first sent to the central service of domestic intelligence in Paris, then the regional direction of Dijon and finally the prefecture of Côte-d’Or.
It all started with a message intercepted by the intelligence services, on the social network Snapchat, on June 11. Written by a member of the Chechen community living near Troyes (Aube), the text called for a rally “for the brothers in Dijon and the surrounding area”.
The man also recounted an incident the previous day, involving “Arabs aged 35-30” and two Chechens aged 19 and 15. “They did not even spare the 15-year-old,” they complained. The Arabs he said, were “25 years old minimum”.
His indignant message continued: “Now it is up to us to allow him to take revenge and restore our image.”
Police intelligence took the message seriously and decided to forward the information. “The appeal is to be taken seriously, the Chechen community being known for its responsiveness to defend their own,” said the note.
But “the domestic intelligence had detected a project without knowing neither the date nor the extent,” said an expert on the file to Franceinfo. In fact, they had planned the raid between June 15 and 19, while it started on the night of June 12 to 13.
“The entire police chain reported to the prefect, who remains the decision maker of the system to be put in place,” said Christophe Fernandez, regional delegate of the SGP Police FO unit union. In fact, the inhabitants of Les Grésilles, who have made numerous videos, and more broadly a large part of the French population, felt that the police response had not been up to par.
“The forces were very mobilized for the weekend demonstrations. Then, there was an operational crescendo, with a heavy presence at tolls and in the city center,” a police officer countered. Contacted by Franceinfo, the prefecture did not want to comment.
The leader of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov, has expressed support for his compatriots. Kadyrov said on his Telegram account the actions of Chechens in Dijon were justified because of police inaction over the assault on a teenager.
The unrest was triggered by violence from drug dealers he added. “It was not inter-ethnic conflict. Local authorities could not deal with out-of-control drug dealers, so the younger generation took matters into their own hands,” he explained.
“Law enforcement did not react as they should have,” he added. “I believe the actions of the Chechens were correct.”
Several Chechen commentators said Chechens were doing the city’s district of Grésilles – home to a large community of North Africans – a favour. “I am sure the citizens of Dijon are quite tired of these low-lifes,” Kadyrov said, calling them “drug dealers”.