Thursday, March 10, 2005

Was Maskhadov moderate?

In the last two days I read quite a few analytical articles discussing Maskhadov’s death. They all go in one paradigm that seems to be accepted by everyone as the only possible. That’s -Maskhadov was a moderate separatist, Basayev is a radical separatist and Askakhanov with Kadyrov are pro-Kremlin marionettes. Now I think there are many different ways one can be a separatist. This paradigm could be correct only when we accept the basic premise – Chechnya must be an absolutely independent state. This way Maskhadov was “moderate” as he was ready to negotiate with Russia such matters as what money would an absolutely independent Chechnya use, how its borders would be guarded or would Chechnya join NATO. Maskhadov never considered even a theoretical possibility that Chechnya would remain within the borders of Russia. He also stated quite firmly that if Russia would have started negotiating with him that would mean that Putin is ready to make Chechnya independent and only wants to discuss details. Basayev is a radical separatist not in the way that he demands unconditional surrender of Russia in Chechnya. First, Basayev wants absolute independence not only for Chechnya but also for Dagestan, Ingushetia, Kabardino-Balkaria and all of the Northern Caucasus (including Christian Osetia that would be "islamized"). Second, Basayev sees this new state as a fundamentalist Islamic republic with a mission to spread Jihad all over the world.
Do Western democracies put it as a ‘must’ that Chechnya should be an absolutely independent state? Mustn’t Russia even raise the question about Chechnya as a Russian autonomy? If one answers these questions positively then Russian nationalists are right – the West is interested in dividing the Russian Federation into many small parts. Is it possible to bring peace to Chechnya without making it an independent state? Can Russia negotiate the degree of Chechnya autonomy? Like, almost any degree of autonomy? If this question is answered positively then Maskhadov is not ‘moderate’ but radical. At the same time Aslakhanov and Kadyrov become not ‘Kremlin side-kicks’ but moderate separatists. Even today the Chechnya constitution allows it so much autonomy that no other republic in Russia has. Just a month ago Aslakhanov proposed new conditions for Chechnnya autonomy that exceed those of Dudaev in 1991. Can you imagine that? In 1991 General Dudaev asked Yeltsin for LESS!
Anyway I don’t believe in the possibility of peace in Chechnya in the next 10 or 20 years. The exception is the regions north of the Terek River that were always peaceful. Kadyrov will not stop his fight for power. Basayev will not stop his terrorist attacks. Chechen clans will not be able to make permanent peace with each other. First, because they never did in the last thousand years. Second, because the ancient system of teips and councils of elders is destroyed.

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