22 January 2004, 01:09
The Chechen Republic Ichkeria
At the end of 1991 the Chechen Republic de facto became an independent State and its territory was free from the jurisdiction of Russia. The official Moscow constantly points out that independence of the Chechen Republic has been declared in violating the political and legislative Acts of the Russian Federation. Though, it should be mentioned that by the time of dissolution of the Soviet Union the Chechen Republic had already been out of Russian jurisdiction and all political Acts and Federal Laws of post-Soviet period were adopted without participation of Chechnya. Besides that the referendum held in the Chechen Republic was not in compliance with the Constitution of Russia of 1993. As for the federal agreement, the Chechen Republic did not sign it either. In addition, from the ethical point of view, we should remember that Russia conquered the Chechen region as a result of a long and bloody war and practically kept it within the limits of Russia by force. The changes were also made in the whole foreign and internal policy. He stated several times that the status of the Republic Ichkeria could be no lower than the status of any other country of Independent Community. On March 12, 1992 the Constitution of Independent Chechen Republic was adopted.
The State symbolics of the Chechen Republic are based on the idea of struggle for freedom running through all the history of the Chechen people. Thus the National anthem is the monument of the Chechen folk and it expresses the moral mood that supported indomitable and proud spirit of the Chechen people in the hardest periods of life.
We were born when the she-wolf was delivering,
And were given the names when the lion was roaring.
In eagles' nests we were fed,
And on the clouds we were taught to horse breaking.
We were born for people and fatherland,
And were brave by their first call,
We were free as the mountain eagles,
And were proud in troubles and obstacles.
The granite rocks would melt soon as lead,
But the enemy would not make us bend!
The Earth would be set on fire,
But we would not sink dishonestly into the grave!
We would never be resigned to anybody,
The death or freedom is forever to our body.
Our sisters treat our wounds with their songs,
And sweet girls' eyes call us to fight.
And if we were very hungry - we would crack the roots,
And if we were very thirsty - we would drink the dew from grass!
We were born when the she-wolf was delivering;
And we serve only for God, People and Fatherland(1).
Three colours on the flag of the Chechen Republic - green, white and red, are the symbols of life, freedom and fight. The government emblem of the Republic is based on illustration of a wolf, the most respected and popular beast among the Chechen and other mountain peoples of the Caucasus(2) . Respectful attitude to the mentioned beast is explained in such way: "A lion and an eagle is the embodiment of force but they attack only the weak. As for the wolf, it attacks only the beasts that are much stronger than itself. The lack of force is changed by unlimited impudence, courage and smartness. In case of losing the fight it dies in silence without any sign of fear and pain. He always dies facing the enemy".* * *
As far back as early in 1992 J. Dudaev demanded moving out of the Russian troops from the Chechen Republic without arms and military equipment. In spite of refusal the Chechen armed formations captured most part of arms of the Russian forces. Further the process of transfer of weapons and military equipment was carried out in accordance with the instructions of Minister of Defense of Russian Federation P.Grachev. Part of arms was purchased by the Chechens. As a result quite a number of arms was found at the disposal of the Chechen leadership, giving Dudaev a chance to start forming of the regular Chechen army, as he always expected clashes with Russia. The Chechen Republic was the first country of the former Soviet Union and the socialist camp succeeding in driving out (though for some time) the Russian troops from its territory.
Moscow could not reconcile to the independence de facto of the Chechen Republic. Obviously, among the political-military leadership of Russia from the beginning there were two tendencies of relation development with the rebellious republic: 1) political resolution of the problem; and 2) the use of force.
Unfortunately, the encirclement of Yeltsin preferred the second way. That is why, instead of making a rational compromise with Dudaev, who suggested a confederative union, that did not exclude the possibility of coming to the mutually acceptable way out, the supporters of force pressure insisted on immediate use of force. The Chechen Republic was subjected to financial, economical and information blockade, along the perimeter of its borders with the countries of the Federation (Ingush region, North Ossetia, Stavropol Territory and Daghestan) began to mass up the Russian troops. Situation was particularly threatening in the zone of the Chechen-Ingush border (the Sunjen and Malgobek Regions), used by the Federal troops to move into the Chechen territory. Though, an armed collision was prevented as a result of separation of the parties and thanks to the agreement concluded between the two Presidents - Aushev and Dudaev. According to the Agreement the borders between two Vainakh republics would not be demarked.
At the end of July 1993 Moscow offered the Chechen Republic to be the member of the Federation with special status that meant having more authorities than the Tatar Republic. Although the offer was rather interesting, it was not supported by the Chechen Parliament.
On December 12, 1993 new Parliament elections were held in the Russian Federation. The Chechen Republic did not take part in these elections and did not send their delegates either. On February 25, 1994 the Russian State Duma (Council) passed a resolution about political regulation of the relations with the Chechen Republic, but the negotiations were of no effect. Unsuccessful were the attempts to arrange a meeting between Yeltsin and Dudaev. Apparently the supporters of the "strict course" took a hand in the derangement of this important meeting.
In August 1994 Moscow made the final decision to cut the "Chechen knot". At the beginning they planned to organize this by an inter-Chechen conflict which would result in overthrowing of Dudaev and passing the power to the "puppet state" that would be obedient to the Federal Center.
Some authorized persons who were not satisfied by Dudaev started to form the Opposition in the Chechen Republic. Russia assisted them with money and arms from the depot of the Russian Army and Ministry of Internal Affairs. The commander of the anti-Dudaev forces was the former policeman U. Avturkhanov. He was also the chairman of the "Temporary Council" of the Opposition. Avturkhanov's headquarters was located in the settlement of Znamenskoe, in the north-west of the Chechen territory, not far from the North Ossetian town of Mozdok. That was one of the main military bases of Russia in the North Caucasus.
The leaders of the Opposition were making warlike declarations. They threatened to conquer Grozny and overthrow Dudaev till the end of the year 1994. But practically they hoped to get military assistance from Russia. The Federals granted the irregular groups of Avturkhanov dozens of tanks, anti-aircraft plants, mortars, cars, shooting arms, tons of ammunition and fuel. It should be mentioned that only 12 tanks of the opposition were completed by the Chechens. The others were Russian military men. The Russian generals and officers took part in elaboration of the plan for seizure of Grozny. Air support was promised by the Russian air forces.
In the morning of November 26, 1994 the armoured carriers and the foot under the flag of Opposition attacked Grozny from three sides. But soon the attack was stopped by fire of the guardian army of the capital of Chechen Republic. As a result of the six-hours fight the assaulter army was completely broken and scattered, suffering heavy losses. As for Avturkhanov himself, he ran away. Many of Russian officers were taken prisoners. The mentioned fact cleared up the role of Moscow.
Besides that the "War Party" under the leadership of Russia decided to drive the action to the end. For this purpose the leadership made a decision to use the regular army. The Moscow high-ranking politicians and military men were absolutely sure in the victory of the regular army over the "Chechen boeviks" (irregular soldiers).
On November 29, in his address to the participants of the armed conflict, Yeltsin demanded to stop fire within 48 hours, to lay down the arms and disband all armed formations.
If the President of Russia had issued such an edict while the oppositionists were preparing for an assault on Grozny, there could have been a slight suspicion of his willingness to prevent a bloodshed. But after complete defeat of the oppositional army the Dudaev's Government was the only addressee of the President's edict.
As the case stood, even if one was not aware of the Chechen mentality, one could most likely expect the rejection of the ultimatum. Thus, Yeltsin's appeal of November 29, 1994 was qualified as a cause for the new military interference.
On December 1, 1994 the President of Russia issued an edict, according to which all illegally armed persons should have laid down the arms and pass them to law-enforcement bodies within 15 days. But the instruction was not executed.
December 7, 1994 - the meeting of the Security Council of the Russian Federation. The Council members passed a resolution to return the Chechen Republic under the jurisdiction of Russia by the use of force. This action officially was regarded as "restoration of the constitutional order" in the Chechen Republic, though, it should be noted that the Russian Constitution of 1993 had never been in force before.
On December 11, 1994 the Russian army started a large-scale military operation against the Chechen Republic. It was the beginning of the war known as the First Chechen War (not counting the Russian-Chechen wars and armed conflicts taking place in the 18th and early part of the 20th centuries).
What forces and means were used by the opposing sides in the beginning of the 1st Chechen Campaign?
According to the Russian military sources the Chechen military formations by December 11, 1994 were thirteen thousand strong with 40 tanks, 50 armoured cars and fighting vehicles, about 100 guns of field artillery and mortars, etc. It was not a numerous but well-organized and battle-worthy army.
23,8 thousand strong armed grouping of Russia included the troops of the Ministries of Defense and Internal Affairs before the attack. It also possessed 80 tanks, 182 guns and mortars, 208 military armoured cars. By the end of December the forces of the armed grouping had been increased to 38 thousand people, 230 tanks, 454 armoured cars, 388 guns and mortars. Besides that strong aviation armada, including the bombardiers, fighters, attack planes, reconnaissance aircrafts, also the percussion and military helicopters, supported the land forces from the air. The Chechen groups also had a number of training aircrafts, produced in Czechoslovakia. But almost all of them were destroyed by the Russian aviation on the airports in the first days of the warfare.
As we can see, from the beginning of the war actions the odds were in Russia's favor concerning the forces and it is quite natural if we compare the military potential of Russia to that of the Chechen Republic. Owing to this a confidence arose in Moscow that the organized opposition would have been broken down by the end of 1994. But the supporters of military actions failed to foresee the great historical experience of the Russian-Chechen relations. The significance of this experience lies in the fact that "suppresion" of the Chechens by force is a long and bloody case. As for the Chechen people, they remember everything: the cruelties of the Russian generals, the red chastisers and, of course, the dangerous Stalin's deportation. Periodically repeated genocide made harder their character and taught them to repulse the enemy even when they are at a disadvantage. When the Russian armoured forces moved to Grozny to restore the "constitutional order" and the air forces started to smash the peaceful settlements, people who were very far from politics took up arms.
The first actions of battle showed that military qualities of the Chechen people have not changed through the half a century of peaceful life. The Chechen irregulars skillfully combined the methods of military actions of the regular troops and partisan groups. The further war actions showed that it was impossible for the Russian army to adapt completely to such combined forms of action.
On December 20, the Russian troops approached Grozny at 10 kilometers' distance and on December 31, started the first storm of the capital of Chechnya that was repulsed by the defenders of the city. The assaulters lost many tanks that appeared to be rather vulnerable in the streets of the city. On January 18, Prime-Minister of Russia, Chernomyrdin, met the representatives of Dudaev. But the achieved agreement between them to stop the fire was not realized. Meanwhile in the streets of Grozny fierce battles were waged. On January 19, the palace of the President fell. Only on March 11, 1995, the "federals", having suffered heavy losses, managed to take almost the whole city under their control. The city was completely turned into ruins. Till June were also occupied other important settlements and centers of the Chechen Republic. The Chechen armed formations retreated to the mountains and passed on to a partisan struggle. At the same time in the rear of the Federal troops started a mortar war. In Grozny and other towns acted the reconnaissance-diversionary partisan groups. The Russians landed a number of helicopters in the mountains that were in the rear of the Chechen formations. That is why it is difficult to speak about more or less clear lines of the armed opposition or the fronts in the Russian-Chechen war. On the territory of the Chechen Republic the warfare was conducted everywhere.
The observers pointed out the cruelest actions of the "federals" towards the native people. The aviation and the artillery were making devastating strokes on the populated areas. That is why there were too many killed among the peaceful population in this war, making up 95% of all the killed. (In World War II, for example, the losses among the peaceful population made up 50% of all killed people). Nobody has counted how many people became the victims of the infinite police inspections ("combing-out"), and concentration camps ("filtration camps"), etc(3).
Till summer 1995 the armed actions were conducted only on the territory of the Chechen Republic. But on June 14, 1995, the international information sources spread information about a cruel raid of the Chechen irregulars under the leadership of Shamil Basaev. They burst into the town of Budionovsk (Stavropol Territory) and captured a hospital with its patients and personnel (more than 500 people). Basaev explained that by his behaviour he wanted to attract the attention of the world publicity to the actions taking place in the Chechen Republic. During those hard days Premier Chernomirdin took upon himself the responsibility for negotiations with Basaev and opened him the way back to the Chechen Republic. By that action Chernomirdin saved the lives of hundreds of people who could have been killed if the federal troops encircling the hospital had not stopped the fire. Despite everything 28 people were killed and 65 were wounded in Budionovsk.
The raid of Basaev, demonstrating the possibility of spreading the warfare in the internal regions of Russia, undoubtedly, promoted the beginning of a new round of the Russian-Chechen negotiations on cessation of hostilities (from June 25, 1995).
The negotiations were participated by Head of the General Headquarters of the Chechen Republic, Aslan Maskhadov, and Commander of the Russian troops, General Anatoli Romanov. On September 10, 1995, in accordance with the agreement concluded as a result of the negotiations, part of the Russian troops began to withdraw from the territory of the Chechen Republic.
Though the peaceful initiative apparently had serious opponents. On October 6, 1995, General Romanov was seriously wounded in Grozny. Because of this fact the further negotiations and driving out of the troops were suspended. The warfare was recommenced.
Firm resistance of the Chechen people made the Russian command increase the forces in the zone of military actions. At the end of 1995, according to the statement of the Head of after-Russian administration in the Republic, D. Zavgaev, there were 462 thousand federal soldiers on the territory the Chechen Republic. The grade of providing the Russian groups with the means of far fire hitting was also rather high. Thus at the end of 1995 one means of far fire hitting in the federal troops was falling at 63 men. It is considered to be an excellent technological equipment of the troops. For example, during the war in the Persian Gulf the index for the multinational forces of UN was 1:110.
On April 22, 1996, the terror act against Johar Duadaev was performed with success. The President of the Chechen Republic was killed as a result of the direct rocket attack. Though the death of Dudaev has not disorganized the Chechens' resistance. Vice-President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev, a writer by profession, became President of the Chechen Republic. The military direction was commanded by Aslan Maskhadov, the former colonel of the Soviet Army. It was he, who worked out the plan of taking Grozny in summer of 1996. Early in August when the Russian troops were on the offensive against the partisans in the mountains in the south of the republic, part of the Chechen formations, having passed through the blockade zone of the "federals", entered the city and took it under their control (August 5-6, 1996). Separate parts of the Grozny garrison of Russia were blockaded by the Chechens.
Apparently such a turn of the affair was a great surprise for the Russian Command. They started to transfer the forces to Grozny and the struggle started. In spite of the generals' reports about breaking the forces in favour of the federal army, the situation in the city remained unchangeable. Air or artillery attack of ruined Grozny meant killing of the blockaded Russian troops too.
On August 12, 1996, in the town of Khasavurta (Daghestan) started peaceful negotiations between the special representative of the Russian Federation, General Alexander Lebed and Aslan Maskhadov who presented the Chechen side. The negotiations ended on August 31, 1996. The parties succeeded in declaring the principles of the relations between Russia and Chechnya. Later this agreement was made official at the meeting of Ghernomirdin and Maskhadov, when on November 23, 1996, they signed the "Provisional Agreement on the Principles of Relationship Between the Russian Federation and the Chechen Republic". The Agreement had a compromise character. Russia did not acknowledge the independence of the Chechen Republic de jure but practically agreed with its independent existence. The final status of the Chechen Republic should be determined in five years, i.e. in 2001. Before signing the Agreement the Russian troops had left the territory of the Chechen Republic (for the second time after disintegration of the USSR).
In January 1997 the presidential elections were held in the Chechen Republic. Aslan Maskhadov was elected President. His meeting with the President of Russia, Boris Yeltsin in Moscow was an important event of the further period. At that meeting was concluded an Agreement about peace and principles of relationship between the Russian Federation and the Chechen Republic - Ichkeria (May 12, 1997). The sides officially declared about the refusal to use force in resolution of conflicts. They also expressed their desire to build their relations in compliance with the principles of International Law. It was also pointed out in the document that the agreement would be a base for the further agreements and contracts concerning the relationships between the mentioned nations.
The Chechen people were celebrating the end of the war. They thought that a long-awaited peace had come. But soon appeared that it was too early to set at ease. Hardly passed three years and the country was put to a more severe test again.* * *
After gaining the independence, but having failed to be recognized as an independent country, the Chechen Republic was found in a rather difficult situation after the war of 1994-1994. The economics of the country was destroyed, the main sources of budget increase were also broken down and the life standard became rather lower. The number of unemployed people in such a small republic was 400 thousand; most of them were young people. Besides that there were thousands of ill and invalid people who needed a long-term medical rehabilitation. Activation of the criminal groups - robberies, kidnappings and drugs complicated the mentioned social-economical picture of the country. The illegal oil business was prospering with all might. The provocations directed toward the Chechen Government before the world community were constantly going on. From this point of view we should point out the fact of killing the representatives of the organization "Doctors Without Borders" that stopped their activities in the Chechen Republic. Also were killed four English citizens who were busy with installation of the satellite communication. The Russian mass media were widely broadcasting those events, commenting them as the criminal anarchy, existing in the rebellious republic. It was really difficult for the law-enforcement bodies of the Chechen Republic to fight with raging of criminal elements. The existing situation and lack of the experienced personnel was rather suitable for all kinds of criminals. During an attempt on October 25, 1998, was killed the Head of the Department Fighting Against the Kidnapping of People, Sh. Bargishev. On that day the Government was planning a large-scale operation against the criminals who kidnapped people for ransom.
The oppositionists of Maskhadov were making seriously dangerous situation for establishing stabilization in the Chechen Republic. Thus after electing him President of the Republic, Z.Iandarbiev and his supporters who had lost power, blamed Maskhadov in pliancy to Moscow. The second part of the opposition was presented by so-called Vakhabits. Vakhabism is a variety of Islam and came into the Chechen territory in the first half of the 90s of the 20th century. It is different from the traditional Sufism. The supporters of Vakhabism call themselves the "monotheists" or the Salafs, the followers of the "pure" Islam that existed at the time of the prophet Mohammed and the first four caliphs (or "righteous caliphs"). Their organizations they call Jamaat (community).
"The Vakhabits" were brave fighting against the Russians in 1994-1996 and gained the respect of the Chechen people, but on the other hand, people did not agree with their radical political and religious views. The people were also against their methods by which the "Vakhabits" were trying to thrust their ideology on the Chechen people. The supporters of the Sufis Islam that is traditional in the territories of Chechnya, Ingushetia and Daghestan, blame the "Vakhabits" in sectarianism. It means that they consider Sufism to be a mistake, deviation from the right belief. The "Vakhabits" blame the temperate political and spiritual leaders of the North Caucasus in cooperation with the Russian Government and in betrayal of the national and religious interests of the North Caucasus people. The top of confrontation between the supporters and opponents of the Vakhabism in the Chechen Republic was on July 14, 1998, when the conflict in the town of Gudermes that started because of domestic reasons turned into a real struggle during which from the both sides were killed more than 50 people, mainly the young men. That was one of the most important struggles that has ever been in the Chechen territory. The "Vakhabits" suffered heavy losses.
After the bloody events of Gudermes, Maskhadov declared Vakhabism illegal and called upon the Imams of the Mosques, the leaders of the local Administration Bodies, to drive out its supporters from the territory. Though the "Vakhabits" were defended by the Vice-president of the Chechen Republic Vakha Arsanov and Shamil Basaev who managed to persuade Maskhadov not to aggravate the situation. Having evaded the rout, the "Vakhabits" soon became stronger and started to increase their forces.
It was interesting that Moscow appeared as the defender of Vakhabism in that situation. On July 22, 1998 a special Commission against the political extremism existed under the President of Russia and with the participation of Minister of Justice Krashennikov, Director of FF Kovalev, Minister of Internal Affairs Stepashin and Minister of the Nationalities Sapiro made a decision that Vakhabism was not an extremist tendency.
According to politologist V. Akaev "The fact that Vakhabism is officially forbidden in Chechnya and Ingushetia and is determined as Islam Fundamentalism in Daghestan, but at the same time, the Russian ministers of forces recognize it as a peaceful and non-extremist tendency, proves that it is supported by certain political circles of Moscow, pursuing their mercenary objects".
In the given case Vakhabism is supposed to be real force against the legally elected power in the Chechen Republic, supported by the Federal Center. Though, to be fair, we should point out that real Vakhabism, as a religious tendency, is rather far from the phenomenon, implied by this term and not all the Muslim groups, regarded as Vakhabists are extremists. Today official leaders of the Government and the clergy can give the name "Vakhabit" to any Muslim person who is against the existing situation in policy and in the sphere of religion (M.Etkin).
In 1997-1998 repeated attempts were made for organization and structural consolidation of the Chechen and Daghestan "Vakhabits" and the political forces, being in sympathy with them. So, in April 1999 the Congress of the Peoples of Ichkeria and Daghestan, headed by Shamil Basaev, came into being in Grozny. An active part in the work of the Congress was also played by the Daghestan Islamists who had recently moved to Chechnya. Two of Basaev's three assistants were Daghestans by birth. The Congress was entitled to conduct any kind of activity, including political on behalf of the Chechen and Daghestan peoples.
It is noted in special literature that on the way of creation of the North Caucasus Confederation, the separation of Daghestan from Russia and its reunification with Chechnya with a view to form a unified state "Daghistan" was the immediate task of the "Islamists" and the national-radicals as well, for these two trends only slightly differ from each other due to the fact that Islam, as is generally known, for almost two centuries has been a unifying factor in political struggle of the region's population speaking diverse languages.
The influence of "Vakhabism" was rather perceptible in many districts of Daghestan. The idea of Islamic "Imamat" seemed to be very attractive for many people on the background of aggravated social-economical and ethno-political situation with widespread unemployment, corruptibility of the authorities and lack of clear vital prospects. In May 1998 in Central Daghestan, in so called Kadar zone (the villages of Kadar, Karamakhi, Chabanmakhi), a peculiar "Vakhabit Republic" came into existance. The native peasants announced the independence of their villages and put themselves beyond the reach of control of the Russian and Daghestan authorities. However, according to certain data, it was not so much a religious-political as social riot resulting in banishment of the corrupt authorities and militia by the armed peasants. Stepashin, Prime-Minister of Russia, visited the Kadar zone and temporarily relieved the tension. Having met with the natives Stepashin pointed out that "quite normal people live in these villages and they should not be disturbed".
However, the activities of the "Vakhabits" on the whole was met dissimilarly by the population of Daghestan. There were cases when all ended in clashes with the followers of traditional Islam. All this on the background of the clan struggle for power in the republic, frequent acts of terrorism and attacks carried against the Russian troops dislocated in Daghestan, put in jeopardy the peaceful existance of the republic.
Such was the situation on August 2, 1999 when the Chechen-Daghestan armed detachments, having occupied border villages in the west of the republic penetrated in the territory of Chechnya and mountainous Daghestan. These detachments were in command of Shamil Basaev, Bahautdin Mahomed, Mahomed Tagaev and Khattab, acting under the "flag" of the Congress of the Peoples of Ichkeria and Daghestan. The Russian information sources, commenting the events as an intrusion of Chechnya upon the territory of one of the subjects of Russian Federation directed their attention to the participation of the Chechen commanders Basaev and Khattab(4) in this action. At the same time, no mention was made about the fact that main forces acting on the part of Chechnya were recruited from the oppositionists of President Maskhadov.
The military incursion into mountainous Daghestan gave a good occasion for the Kremlin to blame Ichkeria for breach of the treaties and aggression. Though there was no evidence of Aslan Maskhadov's as well as other authorities' participation in this action, still President of Chechnya failed to condemn the act of armed intrusion into the neighbour republic. The restraint of Maskhadov can be explained by his unwillingness to aggravate the discord with the opposition headed by the popular military leader Shamil Basaev. Apparently, President apprehended the split of the Chechen society under conditons of confrontation with Russia.* * *
Thus a brief period of unstable peace lasting three years ended in the North Caucasus. Russian Government headed by V.Putin hastily transferred the troops to Daghestan and violent fightings started in the vicinity of the village of Botlikh. Regular forces with the participation of the Daghestan militia-men managed to dislodge the formations of "Islamists" back to the territory of Chechnya.
Having restored control over the border districts of Western Daghestan, Russian authorities delivered an ultimatum to the Jamaat of the Kadar zone to disarm and subdue to the "federals". The ultimatum was met with denial and Russian troops besieged the disobedient villages of Karamakhi and Chabanmakhi, using the armored technical equipment, artillery and bombing aircrafts. The siege warfare lasted several days until the resistance of Daghestan rebels was suppressed. Karamakhi and Chabanmakhi were reduced to ruins.
During this besiege the military formations of Shamil Basaev made one more attempt to break through Daghestan, this time trying to support those who were in the Kadar zone. A stroke was delivered to the Novolak district in the north-western part of the republic. Federal troops, having got reinforcement from the central regions of Russia repulsed the attack of the enemy forces and threw them back to the initial position. These incrusions from Chechnya caused a protest of the significant part of the Daghestan people.
These events were followed by terrible acts of terrorism in Moscow and Volgodonsk. The terrorists blew up several blocks of flats, taking away lives of hundreds of innocent people. And again, Basaev and Khattab were accused of this crime. The Russians considered them to be the organizers of those acts of terrorism (though, no accusatory documents have been presented up to now). Soon Russian air and land forces waged an attack upon Chechnya. The Russian-Chechen agreements of the years 1996-1997 were denounced. On October 1, 1999 the Federal Army of Russia broke in Chechnya and the second Chechen war, or "anti-terrorist operations", as official Russia called it this time, began(5).
It is obvious that this euphemism was used to conceal the secret of the fact that Russia made new attempts to beat the Chechens and hold the Chechen Republic incorporated into the Russian Federation. Russian authorities seemed to have no other solution of the problem by that time. That is why the second war turned out to be much more ruthless and devastating. The number of victims, according to the reviewers, as well as the brutality displayed by the "federal" troops towards the peaceful population, have exceeded by far that of the first campaign. In addition, the right of any state to safeguard the territorial integrity should not be understood as the right to wage practically unrestricted war against the whole nation, especially as this is not the guarantee of success at all. Judging from the experience of Russian-Chechen relations, as well as from the knowledge of world-history, it is either impossible to settle this kind of armed conflict by using force, or it will last for a long time.
In Chechnya the "federals" ran against the People's war; they came across the psychology of militant resoluteness, from the very outset requiring the mobilization of spiritual forces of the resistance. Under the circumstances military actions of low intensity can drag on during long years, for military and technical superiority of the enemy is brought to naught thanks to the factor of personal spiritual and psychological preparation. Besides, and that is especially important, despite the sufferings inflicted by the war, the population always sides with the guerrillas.
An attempt of "Chechenization" of the conflict (i.e., advancing of pro-Russian leaders) does not prove its value either. Anyway, if we consider the matter in the light of the history of Russian-Chechen relations, we can make sure that Russian authorities failed to succeed in finding a single person among the Chechens, who really would be able to counterbalance the leaders of national resistance.
Meantime, the war in Chechnya is going on, and there is no end to it. The war exterminates the population of Chechnya, though no less are the sufferings of Russia: the sons of the Russian people are killed, the budget is burdened with military expenses, the future of the country remains undecided, for waging a war against the not numerous nation it is impossible to hold out on the way of democratic development.
May 25, 2001
(1) Translation from the Chechen language was made by Lem Usmanov.
(2) The term "The wolf with short ears" is the highest praise among the Avar people.
(3) According to the estimations of the Russian military historigraphy the Chechens lost nearly 2,700 "boevics" (fighting men) and more than 39,000 peaceful people in the First Chechen War. According to the same sources the losses in manpower (killed, dead as a result of injuries and accidents) made up 5,551 people; as for the medical losses (the wounded, contused, burnt, ill, and others), 51,304 people died during this war. The figures given by the alternative sources are considerably higher.
(4) Khattab who comes from Saudi Arabia became far-famed after April 1996 when his fighting-men, lying in ambush in the Black Mountains, opened fire against a motorized column and killed 78 people of "federal" forces.
(5) After the recommencement of military actions, the campaign was called "counter-terrorist operations". According to the authors of this correction, it was a response ("counter-terrorist") and not a forestalling ("anti-terrorist") blow, delivered against the Chechen "terrorists".