Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Dividing Chechnya into several parts?

Andy posted some interesting thoughts about my remarks about peaceful solutions for Chechnya. I have to comment about the idea of dividing Chechnya into several states.

Chechens often say: “I’m with Chechnya against Russia. I’m with my teip against
Chechnya. I’m with my family against my teip. I’m with my brother against my
family. I’m against my brother.”
Is it possible to bring peace to Chechnya by dividing it into several parts? I don’t think so. The structure of the Chechen society doesn’t permit establishing a stable nation state in the present-day meaning of the word. Modern nation states are characterized by more stability inside its borders in comparison with more unstable relations with outside neighbors. The US and Mexico can live as perfect states side by side but making Mexico a new state would bring too much chaos. The Chechen society consists of several mighty clans that include more than a hundred teips. And every teip in its own turn can include hundreds of families. The most stable element in the Chechen society is teip but it’s unimaginable to establish a hundred independent countries each averaging from 500 to 40 000 people. It’s unimaginable in the modern world but only two hundreds years ago two thirds of the world’s population was living that way. The Medieval Europe was nothing but a bunch of such “countries” and that was quite natural. Present-day Afghanistan is nothing but a loose “union” of dozens of different clans with a symbolic president at the head. (Does anyone really believe in democratic elections in Afghanistan?) The same could be said about many African countries.
In the times of the USSR Chechnya was also such a “union” of family clans but they managed to keep stability. The Soviet officials turned the blind eye on this as long as Chechens pretended to follow all Soviet rituals. Chechens pretended to be exemplary Soviet citizens and Moscow pretended they didn’t notice that Chechnya was ruled according to medieval laws of the mountains. The first Chechen War (1994-1996) destroyed this culture when, for example, elders of the clan were supreme judge or when vendettas were mostly settled by negotiations. I strongly doubt that old traditions would return to Chechnya. So the old medieval system of checks and balances between clans is non-existent, but stability could be found only within any given clan. There’s no way to build a nation state out of Chechnya and there’s also no way to make an Afghanistan-type “union”. Chechnya de facto independance in 1996-1999 proved it without doubt.
No hope. No future. No light at the end of the tunnel.