By Geoffrey Cook, MMNS
Berkeley–On yesterdayâ€™s news (the fifth), the report was of Vladimir Putin and George W. Bushâ€™s â€œgoodbyeâ€ â€“ both their terms of office will be up soon, and this will probably be their last face-to-face meeting.
Tony Woods, the Assistant Editor of Londonâ€™s New Left Review, is an expert on contemporary Russia, and is an advocate for Chechnyan independence. He came by Berkeley a little over a month ago.
Modern Chechnya, located in the North Caucus Range, began from battles between them and the Central Cossacks, Turks, Russians and Georgians.
The Chechens converted to Islam in the Sixteenth and Seventh Centuries. During this period the Russian Empire was making a steady sweep eastward, grabbing large chunks of Caucasian territory from the Ottoman Turks and the Persians. After the initial conquests, expressions of nationalism were minimal and ambivalent. During the Soviet period, 17,000 Chechens conducted a guerilla resistance for the U.S.S.R. stopping the Nazi blitzkrieg before reaching the Chechnyan borders themselves. Yet the Stalinist State deported 30% of the Chechens from their aboriginal land, and shortly after replacing them with Slavic settler colonialists. This broke down the Muslim societal clan structure, and, thus, instead of identifying with the Soviet State, nationalism arose!
After the breakdown of the Soviet Union (1989/1991), Chechnya was an independent State for three years; then Moscow decided to end their independence in 1994. This First Chechnyan War lasted until 1996. Although they fought the Russians to a standstill, the shared loss of life was somewhere between 35,000 to 100,000. A peace agreement was sculpted that gave the Muslims a limited recognition of sovereignty, but a second war broke out in 1999, a Russian response of two brutal bombings against innocent noncombatants that the Chechens themselves blamed on a false-flag operation by the Russian intelligence services.
Broken buildings still overshadow Grozny even today. 70% of the city is stationary debris. The metropolis up until now lacks utilities. 40,000 Russian soldiers alongside 8,000 pro-Russian Chechen paramilitary are still stationed within the regional Republic, yes the insurrection is far from over, with disparate guerilla resistance.
In support of a â€œclassicâ€ colonial counter-insurgency, the Russians have projected onto the victims the image of criminals by accusing them of a spectacular terrorist attack in Moscow. Yet munitions (largely landmines) left as waste on the battlefield by the Russian military in the Ichkeria (separatist government) have maimed children.
Although the total number of Chechens is approximately one million, tens of thousands have left the land of their birth. Therefore, this leaves 400,000 remaining residents, of which 80% are unemployed, for the war has been devastating to the economy.
Chechnya has been forced to remain with the Russian Federation. Consequently, it has no cultural rights separate from the majority lavic state. Leningrad refuses to dialogue; accordingly, there only remains a military solution. Regarding Islam, European Russia nevertheless holds tightly onto the religious life of its minorities.
Massive voter fraud has been proven prevalent throughout all of the North Caucasus Mountains. Unfortunately, the policy of internal extraordinary rendition is all too common against Russian Islam as by the United States (i.e., Guantanamo).
Tony Woods is certain Chechnya will continue to strive for freedom — for them there is no other option. In the new government (the upcoming Prime Minister Putin) will be in charge of Security (as before) â€“ essentially, nothing will have change! While Vladimir is trying to steal Islamic sovereignty away, he has to grant them full rights to keep what remains of his commonwealth together!
Curiously, Chechnya sits atop an oil reserve. As a result, the Muscovitesâ€™ motivations travel beyond the geopolitical into the economic. Although Chechnya has their private geopolitical â€œspace,â€ their borders are constrained by the Russian Empire. Moscow is offering unacceptable alternatives to Grozny. Hence, the political room is limited, and a solution to this very long-term problem between Orthodox (Christian) Muscovy and (Sunni) Muslim Chechnya is a long way off.