Chechen International Terrorism or Bluff on Blood?
Persistent statement of the Russian authorities and their allies about the connection of the leaders of Chechen resistance movement with "international terrorism" arise at least a doubt in those who is a bit aware of the flow of event that resulted in two Chechen wars. I'd remind about how the events were developing. I've studied thoroughly the development of Chechen conflict examining the official information of the Russian informational agencies and independent sources (monograph D. Dunlop. "Russia Confronts Chechnya", I. Bunich "Chronicle of Chechnya's slaughter", articles in "Novae Gazeta", "Obshchaya Gazeta" newspapers, Memorial Society reports, Radio Liberty, NTV and other sources) and have come to the conclusion that both Chechen wars were the results of internal processes happening in Soviet and post-Soviet territories. It is necessary to study these processes to imagine the development of the situation in Chechnya and Russia in the nearest future. Here's an attempt to track the chronology of the events.
The declaration of Chechnya's independence after the collapse of the USSR in 1991 was natural, considering unstopping persecution of Chechens starting from the time of general Yermolov in the XIX century and including genocide during Stalin era. Chechen republic was making attempts to build a sovereign state since 1991 and did not want to sign the Constitution of Russian Federation.
Moreover in 1991-92 a part of Russian establishment was ready to recognize the independence of Chechnya (a part of the ammunition of the Soviet Army was left in the republic, in 1992 Russian and Chechen working groups several times discussed the question of Chechnya's independence and were preparing the meeting of Dudaev and Yeltsin). But the Chechens did not get the independence. Instead of that, some Russian top officials, generals and some criminal businessmen made an agreement with illegal businessmen from Chechnya and organized a "free criminal zone" in Chechnya through which they illegally traded arms, oil, false bank notes (this activity is described in details by Bunich, Danlop and in other sources).
October 1993 events in Moscow, when the Supreme Council headed by Ruslan Khasbulatov (a Chechen) wanted as if to get back to the times of Communism, put an end not only to the Supreme Council (SC) but to some democratic steps of the Russian authorities. The State Duma that replaced the SC was much more "red" (communistic) and nationalistic and did not even mean the question of political dialogue with Chechen Republic. Russian part started avoiding meeting of Yeltsin with Dudaev, referring either to discrimination of Russians in Chechnya (in fact the Russians-Chechens conflict in the republic wasn't more acute then in the Baltic states or in the Ukraine or other former Soviet republics), or three years later remembering about some violations during the Presidential elections in Chechnya, or planning secret operations of assassination of Pres. Dudaev (March 31, 1992 ; May 28, 1993).
Starting from spring 1994 some officials of the Russian government (Minister on Nations' Problems Yegorov, former banker who had been among the organizers of the "Chechen criminal zone", vice prime minister Shakhrai and others) started practically to openly finance and equip with arms the so called Chechen opposition headed by communist party top official Umar Avturkhanov and criminal Ruslan Labazanov (see Danlop for details). Russian leaders could not have been unaware of such details that in the republic they had reputation of notorious people. It means there was a special plot to start kindling of the civil conflict in Chechnya that could justify military intrusion. So the intrusion of the troops into Chechnya in December 1994 wasn't "a necessary measure" but the result of the thoroughly elaborated diversion against the republic that dared to become independent. And again - punishment of the whole nation.
Here's some statistics of the first Chechen war. 118 000 citizens of the republic died (this is every seventh citizen) including 1893 gunmen. 30 000 became disabled and the majority of them are children. 70% of the industry, all Grozny's hospitals (except #9 and #3) and schools were destroyed. 17 villages were completely ruined and 46 partially. Only one third of Grozny's buildings remained. One third of Argun's building were destroyed. (Pogrom - Internet-newspaper "Separatist" of Russian Movement for Chechnya's Independence, 2000, # 29).
However during the storming of Grozny by Federal troops many Russian citizens of the town died due to untargeted bombing and artillery fire. In August 1996 Russia withdrew troops from Chechnya. In January 1997 presidential elections took place in Chechnya which were recognized by Russia and international community. Aslan Maskhadov was elected the president of the republic due to his more compromise position towards Moscow. On May 12, 1997 Yeltsin and Maskhadov signed "The Agreement on Peace and Principals of Peaceful Co-operation". "The Agreement puts an end to the lasting 400 years confrontation between Russia and Chechnya", declared in this document. The question of political status of Chechnya was not stipulated in the document. It was supposed that this question would be discussed later. Nevertheless, Russia was to reimburse all the expenses done to Chechnya during the war and to render assistance in re-establishing Chechnya's economy as well as to fight criminals and extremists. Russian authorities did not fulfill their obligations, repeatedly pointed out Russian human rights activists (in particular, reports at All Russian Emergency Congress for Human Rights, Moscow January 20-21 2001).
"We granted them practically full independence", were repeating Russian top officials. However this "practically full independence" of the ruined republic, meant its complete political and economic isolation. The republic was neither recognized as a subject of the federation enjoying all the rights, nor as a subject of international community. Moreover like it was before the first war, some officers of law enforcement bodies and criminal businessmen re-started the activity of the "criminal zone" and again started to provoke the split of the Chechen society using differences of those who wanted peaceful life (adherents of Aslan Maskhadov) and those who did not trust Moscow and influenced by Muslim extremists. Instead of rendering assistance to Maskhadov and showing the intention to provide real peace and to reimburse all the expenses made by the war thus decreasing the confrontation in Chechen society, the secret services promoted the confrontation in Chechnya, accusing Maskhadov of incapability to confront the extremists. Regular propaganda on Russian TV and in the mass media presenting Chechens as criminal nation and Chechnya as a "criminal zone" and "center of banditism". Chechen "party of war" were working as if in co-operation with the Russian one. Basayev's squadron intruded Dagestan in August 1999.This is what official propaganda reported justifying another war with Chechnya. Many sources report that the intrusion of Basayev into Dagestan had been prepared by Russian military and Dagestan extremists but not Chechens ones took part in it (See Krylovsky "Technology of lie" Maskhadov's interview to "Novaya Gazeta", April 2000).
But even this official version cannot justify the "necessity" of such a response that denies all the negotiations. Even according to this official version Basayev, who was Defense Minister of Chechnya, acted without Maskhadov's permission and was dismissed from his position for that. It's obvious that Russian but not Muslim extremists needed new war! The activists of the "criminal zone" needed the war as their activity was too vivid and they had to protect their profits by abstracting the world's attention from their criminal activity. Some reports about criminal co-operation of the Russian Mafia and Osama Bin Laden organizations may be true. (See: Bin Laden terror group to acquire chemical weapons - The Washington Times, September 26, 2001).
Perhaps the American secret services dealing with the international terrorism should investigate in this direction as well. Russian military also wanted new war to gain revenge for defeat in Afghanistan war, for "perestroika" when the army was in fact humiliated and for the first Chechen war. Former Soviet people subconsciously wanted war as well as they were get used to accusing some enemy of all their troubles. This subconscious social "order" for war was felt by the authorities and by the "Family" who were interested in finding the successor of President Yeltsin. The following was a cynic and brutal "play" which is unbelievable for Russia that has gone through the Stalin repressions and WW II and that has been calling for peace in the whole world with by Soviet authorities.
Mysterious explosions of the dwelling houses in Moscow were as a catalyst of the public's hatred towards the Chechens. Personal responsibility for those explosions was at once and successfully replaced by the national one. During the second Chechen war 7 towns including the capital Grozny and several tens of villages WITH THEIR CITIZENS were destroyed. The military used vacuum bombs, chemical and bacteriological weapon, heavy artillery and etc. Mass executions and burning of alive people (in Malye Aldy village 80 civilians were executed, tens of civilians were executes in Staropromyslovsky district of Grozny, Komsomolskoe and Goiskoe villages). This information was presented during the Moscow conference on Chechen problem Nov 19-20, 2000. "Large armed gangs" are defeated, report the military, which means everything that can be destroyed is destroyed, and the gunmen split into small groups and started guerrilla war. As a result the FSB took responsibility for Chechnya, which means that the main method of fighting partisans is mop up operations in villages taking away civilians and torturing them in filtration camps.
According to the data of the Society of the former prisoners of filtration camps, 15 000 people have gone through the camps in Chechnya. Practically nobody leaves the camp in healthy condition. Thus the method of the genocide of Chechens by using arms of mass destruction was replaced by mass torture of the nation. Russian authorities doom 200 000 Chechen refugees living in Ingushetia for starvation, cold and epidemic. According to the data of the humanitarian organizations the refugees haven't received products for two months already, 325 people out of every 1000 are infected with tuberculoses. Poor people are being forced to return to Chechnya. Those lucky who managed to get to Moscow or other Russian regions face other problems. Chechens are denied employment, lodging, children are not allowed to school. They can be detained at any time by the police and taken away to the police station where they are interrogated by the methods used at the time of Stalin repressions.
May be Russia wants to solve the Chechen problem by actively offering its participation in fighting international terrorism? Too many crimes have been committed against civil population in Chechnya, and Moscow tries by any means to avoid responsibility. It's not without reason that Russia would only allow America and its allies to use its military bases and Airspace, if they were ready to consider Russian position on many questions. Among these questions President Putin mentioned just on concrete - Chechnya ("Chechenpress", 24 Sept. 2001).
However, Americans are not so naive to believe this clear bluff about "Chechen terrorism". Here's Danlop's opinion: "There is a number of Vahhabits, Hottab's adherents, who may be somehow connected with bin Laden, who renders some financial help to Chechen gunmen. But the majority of Chechen gunmen have nothing to do with neither international terrorism, nor with extremist forms of Islam. I'm afraid that in response to Chechen attacks and using the fact that the attention of the international community is drawn away by September tragedy in America, Russia will start mass genocide in Chechnya. The results of the military campaign can be terrible.
Unfortunately Russian authorities deny negotiations with legal President of Chechnya Aslan Maskhadov. All wars end with nothing else but negotiations between the belligerents and the stake on such marionette like Kadyrov won't do". The same opinion expresses international law specialist Michael van Valt who has participated in regulation of ethnic conflicts, including Nagorny Karabakh, Abkhazia, the first Chechen war, Tibet and East Timor. "We need to more intensively disseminate objective information on situation in Chechnya, as Russian authorities may take an occasion to increase propaganda and speculations on "connection of Chechen terrorism" with the international one, which contradicts the reality". Russian human rights activists also warn about the danger of using American tragedy by Russia in its anti-Chechen plots. In the statement signed by Russian respected human rights activists concerning September 11 tragedy it is written: "We refuse as if simple solutions of difficult problems. We deny imposing on the world community thesis on "global Islamic plot" and uniting into one such different problems like international terrorism, Islamic fundamentalism, barbaric rule of Talibs in Afghanistan, dictatorship regimes in Iraq or Libya, war in Chechnya, conflicts in the Balkans, Arab-Israel conflict and etc. We protest against attempts to use American tragedy to kindle religious and national hatred, in particular against Muslim nations. These attempts do not make the world safer. We are especially concerned with the attempt to justify the solution of the Chechen problem by using only force. We believe there is only one way out from this problem - peaceful regulation and negotiations".
Elena Bonner in the interview to Russian Radio in the USA said: "We know some ten names of bandits but everything that goes on in Chechnya is presented as if done by the Chechens. In fact Russian secret services, that are in co-operation with bandits, are responsible for that. Of course, Russia will try to distract the world community's attention from mass violation of human rights in Chechnya where women and children are dying, where army is deteriorating making the territory of the republic a new bandits' enclave". Russian authorities announced practically open war to the whole Chechen nation, but do not stop ethnic hatred. This is an example for the world's community of how one shouldn't fight terrorism. There's just hope that basic American values will prompt America and other nations the new ways to fight this new world evil.