Today the problem of Chechnya is the most difficult one
for Russia. This is primarily because here we are confronted
with a lethal threat to hundreds of thousands of really
unfortunate, innocent women, old people and children,
ordinary citizens of the Russian Federation, Chechnians
by birth who simply want to live and work on their land.
Secondly , because really large groupings of armed criminals
have been formed in Chechnya, which are aggressive, well
armed and most probably receive support from abroad. Moreover
they offer a new "service" on the international
market - a war against anyone, on order and for money.
Chechnya, Tajikistan and Kirgiziya present real and long-term
dangers to Russia.
As the first and second problems occur in the same time
and same place, this represents an extreme difficulty
The events in Daghestan transferred all these processes
into an acute open phase. The Russian army had all the
grounds for its actions and implemented its task. It approached
the boundaries of Northern Terek and thereby obtained
the positions necessary to control the situation. Above
all,. the army really managed to provide for the first
time in the past five years the requisite conditions for
the construction of a real border-line there and introduce
control over the administrative boundaries of Stavropol
Region, Ingushetia and Daghestan.
Russia's main goal here is to protect the citizens of
the Russian Federation, and as it tackles these issues,
smash the aggressor in Daghestan and obtain the support
of the local population. The army has provided the politicians
with excellent conditions to achieve a political settlement
of the conflict in Chechnya, including negotiations from
a position of force.
According to all the rules, from this moment on the initiative
should be passed on to the country's political leadership.
But it transpired that there were neither politicians
in the Kremlin or Russia's White House. Army generals
waited for a little while and then went further, threatening
that they wouldn't accept any interference in their desire
to "go till the end".
Obviously the position of such generals has a military
logic. Militarily they are right.
However, politics, is quite another thing. The US President
Truman did not hesitate to dismiss a legendary army general
MacArthur, when the latter proposed a bombing of China
during the war with Korea: "to ensure our success
and create the requisite conditions for a definitive victory".
US generals tried to persuade their President to bomb
Cuba during the Caribbean crisis for a long time, but
were dismissed. Quite recently General Schwarzkopf was
dismissed, because he insisted on a ground attack on Baghdad
after the "Storm in the Desert". Generals have
always been proposing similar decisions. This is right.
This is their logic. But let me repeat once again that
politics is quite another matter.
I don't doubt here the patriotic motives of the army's
leadership, but the goal termed by the generals "a
definitive victory in Chechnya" is an illusion, and
consequently destructive for the country.
It leads Russia to moral and geopolitical catastrophe,
the final and probably irreparable disaster for Russia
in the 20th century, rather than to a consolidation of
the state and the army.
All the bombings and humiliation of the refugees increase
the number of people, who are taking arms in their hands
to fight us. Surely it is high time to understand after
the war of 1994-1996 that in the end this makes us confront
the problem of homicide against one of the ethnic groups
of the Russian Federation?
Russia will not survive this attempt: it won't be able
to achieve this goal and will consequently sustain a definitive
defeat. We must stop moving in this suicidal manner.
The war and Russia's future is too great for them to
be sublimated to purely military logic, motivated moreover
by recent personal military disgrace and a desire for
revenge. The military leadership cannot set political
tasks and take political decisions. This has never happened
in Russia's history.
But now it looks as if this has been taking place: this
constitutes the worst result of a decade of Yeltsin's
However, this is not a plot, conspiracy or military coup.
It is far worse. This is a direct consequence of the complete
discreditation of the power of the kleptocrats that surrounded
the presidential team; the result of the army's and society's
contempt of these authorities and the pain suffered by
the people owing to the situation in the country.
When the military talk about betrayal in the upper echelons
of power and assert that the army is being robbed in a
literal and figurative sense, they are right.
Certainly, in Russia this refers not only to the military,
but to virtually everybody in the country. However, the
soldiers and army officers first pay with their lives
The liberation of Beslan Gantamirov from prison and the
formation of some "new Chechenian authority"
that he heads clearly demonstrates that the Russian government
has no reasonable plan over how to act in Chechnya. It
simply has no plan. Now it is clear why the government
is obscure in its comments, issues confused stories, tells
lies, introduces censorship, issues propaganda campaigns
and generally acts as if it were part of a secret service
rather than state policy and consequently ends up confusing
the population. Any politician attempting to say something
more or less reasonable receives no reliable information
either from Chechnya or the government.
After the story with Gantamirov we cannot expect any
reasonable actions from our government. I am afraid, that
this is a Government of another huge failure. Therefore,
as was the case during the times of Pavel Grachev (Ed.
Defence Minister responsible for sending the troops to
Grozny in 1994), we must propose, insist and try out plans
to ensure both a military and political settlement in
First of all we should begin by introducing an emergency
regime in the territories bordering the Chechen Republic
and part of Stavropol Region. We must define the zones
of military operations and publish the orders of the Supreme
Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Russian
Federation and the decisions of the supreme governing
bodies of the country, which lead to military operations.
We must terminate the wide-scale bombing of the territory
of Chechnya and suspend the wide-spread ground attack.
We should conduct negotiations with Aslan Maskhadov as
the legitimately elected President of Chechnya on the
following six terms: - all hostages should be freed, the
kidnappings and slave trade should be curbed; - the minimum
basis should be established for a civil law-governed state
in Chechnya; - terrorists announced under international
investigation must be extradited to the authorities of
the Russian Federation or be deported outside Chechnya;
- the disarmament of all unofficial military groupings
in Chechnya; - liquidation of all military repressive
bodies; - all individuals convicted of international terrorism
should not be allowed into Chechnya.
If Aslan Maskhadov refuses to conduct negotiations under
these terms, a 30-day deadline should be granted to enable
all refugees to leave Chechnya. The aforementioned tasks
will be resolved by the federal forces independently.
The federal government must undertake all the requisite
measures to guarantee security, material and medical provisions
for refugees and make sure that the aid offered by international
humanitarian organisations arrives unhindered.
All this is necessary to save human lives and avert an
irreversible situation. Six months ago Russia saved NATO
from the same deadlock in Yugoslavia. Why shouldn't we
do the same thing for ourselves?