EDITORIAL: Putin’s Chechnya Fraud

EDITORIAL

Putin’s Chechnya Fraud

Last week various news organizations reported on Russia’s announcement of a major force withdrawal from Chechnya.  The Kremlin was attempting to make it seem that it was pulling out troops because it could declare, like George Bush:  “Mission accomplished!”  As if to add another exclamation point, the Kremin assassinated yet another Chechen national on foreign soil (but would Russia accept Britain liquidating Russian citizens it felt were connected to the Litvinenko murder?).

Bush, however, didn’t pull troops out of Iraq after making that declaration, and the ever-watchful Paul Goble was not fooled by the Kremlin’s gambit, as were some of the clueless news organizations who reported the story.  And, encouragingly, Goble says that many Russians are also wise to the Kremlin’s ridiculous fraud.  In fact, the only reason Russia is pulling forces out of Chechnya is that it simply can’t afford to keep them there any longer.

Goble reports:

Kommersant says that its sources have indicated that any such decision, which they say would have occurred at the March 20th meeting between Kadyrov and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, reflects crisis-imposed financial constraints rather that victories in the field. These sources, which the paper says are “highly placed” officials in the defense and interior ministries, told the paper that “under the conditions of the [current economic] crisis, supporting the group of federal forces in Chechnya is becoming simply [and clearly increasingly] difficult.” Aleksey Malashenko, a specialist on the Caucasus at the Moscow Carnegie Center, agreed. “It is obvious,” he told the paper, “that under the conditions of a financial crisis, paying for the many-thousand-man strong grouping of forces together with all its weaponry and command structures is beyond the capacity of the powers that be.”

Refuting claims from the Kremlin’s puppet regime in Chechnya, Goble gives three reasons to disregard their fanciful claims that the region has been pacified:

First, Russia’s deputy interior minister Arkady Yedelev said that Kadyrov’s declaration about the end of the counterterrorism operation was “the first time [he’d] heard about it. Second, officials in the office of President Dmitry Medvedev who would have to sign off on any such policy shift given that the war was started by an order of an earlier Russian president said that it was premature to talk about an end because “the question about this is still only being worked out.” And third, Akhmed Zakayev, the prime minister of the government of Chechnya-Ichkeria, now in exile, told Kommersant that “it is possible to make [any kind of statements about the situation] one wants on paper, but in fact nothing has changed” on the ground in his homeland or between Moscow and Grozny.

The notion that the Kremlin can afford to disengage militarily from Chechnya even as Dagestan explodes in violence and the nation prepares to host the Olympics in Sochi is ludicrious even by the bizarre standards of the neo-Soviet Kremlin.  Anyone who had not already abandoned the idea of attending the Sochi games, whose security will obviously be compromised by the economic crisis in any case, will have no choice now but to see that such a decision would be suicidal.

In our lead editorial, we point out Russia’s naked attempt to militarize the Arctic, seeking territorial conquest there.  From all appearances, the Kremlin is cutting of security efforts in Chechnya in order to pay for this madcap scheme, and dooming all those in the region to decades of violence and bloodshed — to say nothing of the Olympic athletes.

It’s genuinely pathetic that the Kremlin would think it could pull of a charade like this.  It was one thing for it to try such games during the Soviet times when it was protected by its shroud of mystery behind the “Iron Curtain.” But now, the world can only gape in horror as Russia seems hellbent on self-destruction.

9 responses to “EDITORIAL: Putin’s Chechnya Fraud

  1. You missed some major news:

    Hero of the Russian Mafia Kadyrov just killed another Hero, Sulim Yamadayev (originally there were 3 Hero Yamadayevs, they’re all dead now). This time the Hero’s hitmen hunted-down their victim in Dubai.

    The two Heroes together (Sulim’s Gold Star of Hero of the Russian Mafia prominently visible): http://gdb.rferl.org/4ED8E737-543D-4B85-A519-2DEE766DFEEF_mw800_mh600.jpg

  2. Ah, not “missed”, you wrote about him like if he was just “another Chechen national” – what a big mistake!

    Sulim was just 1 year ago the #2 in Chechnya – when their convoys met each other, none of them wanted to pass each other, so this ended in a shootout that marked the open hostilities (Sulim thought the federal army is on his side, as he was officer in the GRU).

    He also won the war in Georgia for Russia – the regular forces got bogged down deeply (army commander shot, planes including a heavy bomber used for recon getting shot down while trying to even locate the Georgians, armoured vehicles breaking down on way to the conflict zone) and it was the Chechen Spetsnaz who had saved them then, operating partially even behind the Georgian lines.

    An old article (Baisarov’s also dead now, killed in central Moscow): http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2006/jun/13/worlddispatch.russia

  3. And seriously now: You guys (on the LR blog) should get someone who knows anything about Chechnya to write anything about Chechnya.

    Because otherwise it’s full of stories about the non-existing “suicide bombers lurkin around airports” looking for foreigners to kill for some reason (“getting there is a suicide”), Ingushetia is being confused with Chechnya, the major Chechen warlord Sulim Yamadayev becomes just “another Chechen national”, while the Chechens as a whole are described as “terrorists” and even a “bandit nation” (like if I heard the old Russian media – what a deja vu).

    And for the next update, the story of Sulim’s life and death (full of such delicious episodes like commanding in the war against Georgia while being officially “federally wanted for murder” in Russia).

  4. More about the murder of “yet another Chechen national”:
    http://www.watchdog.cz/?show=000000-000004-000001-000261&lang=1

  5. Yamadayev aside, on the Russian financial crisis in Chechnya:
    http://www.watchdog.cz/?show=000000-000004-000002-000075&lang=1

  6. And in the non-Kadyrov Chechnya:
    http://www.watchdog.cz/?show=000000-000005-000004-000172&lang=1

    No, they’re not planning to kill the “suicidal” foreigners. But it’s very nice that you’re always so concerned about their safety anytime there’s a mention of the mujahideen and/or Chechnya.

  7. Kommersant about the ends to the war in Chechya:

    OPERATION IN CHECHNYA HAS BEEN ACCOMPLISHED FOR ALL TEN YEARS

    ENDING OF THE ANTITERRORIST OPERATION IN CHECHNYA – BRIEF HISTORY OF THE MATTER; State officials have been speaking about the upcoming accomplishment of the antiterrorist operation in Chechnya for ten years

    Defense Minister Igor Sergeev, December 1, 1999: “The condition of the bandits is getting worse and I think the operation will be accomplished in two or three months.”

    Senior deputy commander of the united group of forces, Gennady Troshev, February 29, 2000: “After seizing Shatoy the antiterrorist operation in Chechnya is over. The operation for the liquidation of small groups of militants will last for two or three more weeks.”

    During his visit to Chechnya on December 7, 2001, presidential plenipotentiary in the Southern Federal District, Victor Kazantsev, said that the operation “will be accomplished by spring of 2002.”

    In his interview to RIA Novosti on December 18, 2002, head of the administration of Chechnya, Akhmat Kadyrov, said that the operation in the republic “is approaching completion.”

    On August 29, 2003, Commander of the Interior Forces, Vyacheslav Tikhomirov, announced that “the antiterrorist operation in Chechnya is over” and henceforth the united group of forces “will maintain order.”

    In his interview to RIA Novosti on April 22, 2004, head of the presidential security service of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, said, “There will be no militants in Chechnya in two or three years. The last summer and winter has come for the majority of militants.”

    President Vladimir Putin, January 31, 2006, “It is possible to speak about the end of the antiterrorist operation.”

    President of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, March 19, 2007: “We already accomplished the operation as such. We only struggle against the remaining criminal elements. We will finish them in the next month or two.”

    Source: Kommersant, March 26, 2009, p. 1

  8. No update dedicated to the casue of Yamadayev? Look what opportunity you are missing now:

    The Moscow Times » Issue 4115 »

    Dubai Police Detain Russian in Yamadayev Slaying
    31 March 2009
    Combined Reports

    (…)

    The chief ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, arrived in Moscow on Monday for two days of talks with President Dmitry Medvedev. In a brief report Monday, Channel One showed Medvedev and the UAE delegation discussing bilateral ties, though there was no indication that Medvedev raised the issue of Yamadayev’s slaying.

    Yamadayev and his brothers Ruslan and Badrudi headed a powerful clan that fell out with Kadyrov after enjoying warm relations with Kadyrov’s father, former Chechen President Akhmad Kadyrov, who was assassinated in Grozny in 2004.

    Ruslan Yamadayev, a former State Duma deputy from Chechnya and member of its United Russia faction, was gunned down in central Moscow in September. It is unclear whether any suspects have been detained in connection with his slaying.

    Sulim Yamadayev is the fifth Chechen exile killed abroad over the past six months. Three former rebels were killed in Turkey, while another was shot dead on the streets of Vienna, where he had received political asylum.

    Like the Kadyrovs, Yamadayev and his brothers initially supported Chechnya’s independence from Russia in the 1990s. They fought against federal troops during the first Chechen war but switched sides during the second military campaign and supported Kremlin efforts to end Chechnya’s de facto independence. With Akhmad Kadyrov, the Yamadayevs arranged for their stronghold — the Chechen city of Gudermes — to be taken over by federal troops without a fight. In return, a grateful Kremlin allowed the Yamadayevs to use their commandos to form the elite Vostok battalion under the auspices of the Defense Ministry.

    Both Sulim and Ruslan Yamadayev were awarded Hero of Russia medals — one of Russia’s highest honors — for fighting with federal forces against Chechen rebels. Sulim was made commander of Vostok, while Ruslan was elected to the Duma in 2003. He was not re-elected in December 2007 in what insiders said was a sign that Chechen authorities no longer wanted him in such a high-profile post.

    The Yamadayevs were believed to be the only political and military force in Chechnya capable of acting independently of Kadyrov, who became president in February 2007. A standoff between the two clans culminated in April 2008 when a Vostok convoy failed to yield to Kadyrov’s motorcade. A furious Kadyrov subsequently ordered a crackdown on the Yamadayevs.

    Chechen prosecutors opened an investigation into Sulim Yamadayev on murder charges, and he was subsequently put on a wanted list. Kadyrov’s press service distributed a flurry of statements accusing the brothers of organizing extrajudicial killings, torture, extortions and kidnapping.

    (…)

    Kadyrov’s efforts to undercut the clan did not stop Sulim Yamadayev from commanding the Vostok battalion during Russia’s military operation to push Georgian troops out of South Ossetia in early August. Shortly after the Georgia war, he was fired from the Vostok battalion and his arrest warrant was canceled by Chechen prosecutors.

    Yamadayev was not the first Chechen strongman to be killed in the Gulf. Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev, a senior Chechen separatist, was killed in Qatar in 2004 when a bomb tore through his sports utility vehicle in Doha.

    Two Russian intelligence service agents were arrested in Qatar and sentenced to life in prison for the bombing. They were extradited to Russia in January 2005, and a month later the Federal Prison Service acknowledged that they were not being held in prison.

    LA RUSSOPHOBE RESPONDS:

    This is not a news service blog, we don’t even publish every day. We do commentary and analysis. We plan an editorial on this topic on Sunday.

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