The Complicated Situation in Chechnya
Randy Black,who has a Russian wife, writes: I echo Cameron Sawyer’s views of the facts surrounding the Chechen resistance. In my personal experience, the Chechens have only one “product” and that is crime. That’s the bad news. The good news is that there are not very many Chechens left on earth. The region is home to about one million. Figure many are pensioners, others are children, most of the women in the adult age workforce are not fighters, and that leaves very few potential people who may be interested in fighting.
Many good ones fled to more peaceful regions and are quietly going about their normal daily lives elsewhere. The older Chechens probably never had anything to do with the resistance and mostly have stayed put, scraping out their existence in their homeland. Others are in prisons. More still are dead from the battles. My wife says that the vast majority of Chechens still living in that region are peace-loving folks who want to be left alone. She clearly believes that the guerillas are not Chechens but are mostly outside forces, brought in by money, and nothing more. My question is: Who is furnishing the money and why?
When the Chechen leader, Ruslan Khasbulatov, leader of the Russian Duma (Congress) led the attempted coup of the Russian government in 1993 in Moscow, one of the first things the Moscow cops did was to round up most of the illegal Chechens living in the Moscow, temporarily imprison them, and then put about 5,000 of them on chartered trains heading south to their homeland. I was told this by one of my firm’s partners, a former KGB colonel. The result was that car thefts dropped from hundreds per day in Moscow to ZERO per day over night.
I asked the former KGB guy where they could stash thousands of people, on short notice, considering that the local jails were already pretty full. He said, “Remember the bomb shelters across Moscow from World War II? They’re still there, only now some of them are being used as temporary housing for the “blacks.” Chechens are referred to by some Russians as “black” due to their darker skin and hair, I suppose.
Cameron may have a differed read on those events, but this was the impression I had in 1993-1995, when I was living in Russia.
Miles Seeley asks: Is it only me, or do others see parallels between Chechniya and Iraq? RH: I see a closer resemblance with the regime of José Bonaparte in Spain. In Spain, 1808-1975, Raymond Carr describes the illusions Napoleon had about Spain when he deposed the incompetent Charles IV and his son Ferdinand and put his brother Joseph on the throne. He instituted reforms which the Spanish people did not appreciate because his government was imposed from the outside. The revolt of the people on May 2 and the execution of patriots an May 3 have been immortalized by Goya. Because of the constant guerrilla fighting by the equivalent of "terrorists", Napoleon described Spain as a running sore and gave up. Ferdinand was restored to the throne. I deeply hoe history does not repeat itself.
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September 26, 2004