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  Chechnya in the grip of Russian information blockade

Valentinas Mitë
2008 07 07

It is difficult to speak about what is going on in Chechnya now, since Russia totally restricts or mutilates the information coming from there. Official Russian media states that the situation in Chechnya is peaceful and stable.

Quite a few Western countries believe or pretend to believe that the situation in Chechnya is really getting stable. But, according to the journalists who manage to get through to Chechnya, the peace is shadowy. A lot of problems, both old and new, are hidden under it.

Resistance fighters do not have control over any bigger settlement or clearly defined part of the country, but this is only an illusion. Almost every day Russian news agencies report about killed soldiers or “terrorists” liquidated during operations.

According to the governmental sources, there are only several hundred of rebels, but their actions are enough to cause notices on ambushes made by the fighters and encounters. Nobody can tell the number of rebels. According to people who managed to escape from Chechnya, new young people who cannot stand the never-ending terror join the fighters.

Really, the situation in Chechnya has changed during the recent years. Presently Chechnyans themselves control the country, and it does not matter that they are led by R. Kadyrov, who does not care a damn about human rights and life. But, though being a Kremlin placement, R.Kadyrov is a Chechnyan nationalist. Though quite a lot of Russian army is stationed in Chechnya, the civil authorities of Moscow practically are absent here. R.Kadyrov succeeded to achieve what seemed impossible when D.Dudajev was in power - the factual independence from Moscow. Chechnya today is governed by the Chechnyans, and it does not matter whether they are –“good” or “bad” ones.

Besides, in Chechnya there is neither the Russian administration, nor the Russians themselves. Before the fall of the Soviet Union and the beginning of the independency war about 50 per cent of the country population were Russian speaking; today they would hardly make one per cent. Nobody can tell the number of Chechnya inhabitants today, but supposedly, Chechnyans make a bit under a million.

Life of the most of them is unbearable not only because of the safety absence, but also because of the lack of food products, services, pharmaceuticals. Western and even Russian humanitarian aid and human rights protection organisations are not allowed into the most part of Chechnya. The EU assigned much more than a million dollars to Chechnya, but it is not clear how the money was used.

Russia is facing a more serious problem in Chechnya than the factual self-government of Chechnyans – the war in Chechnya destabilises the whole North Caucasus.  Disturbances occur in Dagestan and other neighbouring republics. Chechnyans, who became real professionals of partisan war, train fighters groups in those republics.

But the resistance of Chechnyans is not solid, and the problems caused by it are rather different.

A part of the Chechnyan resistance seeks the independence of Chechnya. This group the influence of which is continuously weakening, is represented by A.Zakayev residing in the West.

Another part of the Chechnyan society more and more accepts the goals of radical Islam, close to “Al Qaeda“goals. This part rejects the independence of Chechnya, does not regard the West as their allies, but identifies them with world jihad instead. Its vision is the establishment of the North Caucasus caliphate. This is a really dangerous deviation, V.Putin being the guiltiest of the occurrence of which, failing to find in due time enough political wisdom to speak to the Chechnyan nationalists. And negotiations with religious fanatics are much more difficult, if possible at all.

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