During Chechens’ struggle for independence, powerful Russian forces invaded and crushed the life out of Chechen resistance. All moderate Chechen leaders were assassinated, leaving mostly militant Islamists. A Moscow-installed Chechen puppet regime imposed a rein of terror upon the population, using torture, murder, mass reprisals, hostages and rape.
The world ignored these violations but paid rapt attention to another crime, the death of over 300 Russian child hostages in the still murky school massacre at Beslan. As the outside world totally ignored the death of another 100,000 Chechen after Moscow successfully branded them, `Islamic terrorists’ a quarter of the Chechen people, Muslims and Russians, died from 1991 until 2010, not counting Stalin’s mass murder. Yet Chechen keep fighting on.
TIME TO SET THE CHECHEN FREE
Note for WoP readers: Chechnya is a country in the Northern Caucuses. Majority of its people are Muslim by faith.
Chechens are fighting for freedom since last 300 years. They first fought against the Tsars, then Soviets and now again they are up in arms against the Russian Federation.
The Chechens’ spark for freedom has unfortunately been hijacked many a times by different forces.
In WWII, the Chechens in Stalin’s army defected to the German side but the Nazis, who had developed a cult of superior German race, treated them as second rate fighters more befitted to serve as cannon fodder for the German advances on Russian front. Disgusted, the Chechens switched back to Russian side again.
In our recent history, when the mighty Soviet state collapsed, the Chechens again started their struggle & were very confident to attain freedom, as their Muslim brothers in central Asian states had. However, they were not so lucky. Consequently the Chechens intensified their efforts to seek independence. This time it were the Americans who, first provided support to Chechen freedom struggle. This support, however, was provided not for the Chechen’s freedom but to bring the Russians under pressure so that US could strike a deal with the Russians to her own advantage only. Once the Russians agreed to the US terms, the Americans did not take much time to label the Chechen freedom fighters as ‘terrorists’, a polity not different from the one they adopted for the Afghans, who were declared first as the ‘Mujahideen’ but once the Soviets were defeated at the hands of the Mujahideen, they branded the same Mujahideen as ‘terrorists’.
The sad story of Chechens’ aspirations for freedom has not ended yet. Their struggle is still on. Whether and when will they succeed, no body is in a position to give any time frame. But the Chechens’ aspirations for freedom cannot be suppressed for long. These very aspirations of the Chechen, is the subject of Eric Margolis’s following story. [Nayyar]
by Eric Margolis
There is an old saying about the fierce Chechen tribes who inhabit southern Russia’s Caucasus mountains: `Chechen cannot ever be defeated. They can only be killed.’
Chechen are Russia’s nemesis. Even the notoriously brutal Russian mafia fears the ferocious Chechen, and for good reason.
Last year, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin proudly proclaimed that resistance to Russian rule in the North Caucasus had been eliminated. The region was pacified.
Confounding Putin’s claim, Chechen suicide bombers hit Moscow’s subway last month [29/3/2010] , killing 39 and injuring over 70. Chechen suicide bombers in Dagestan killed twelve, mostly policemen. There were further attacks in neighboring Dagestan. The North Caucasus was again at a boil.
The attacks seriously rattled Russians and left the Kremlin deeply embarrassed and enraged.
Two `black widows’ – wives or daughters of Chechen independence fighters killed or raped by the Russians (Russians call them `Islamic terrorists’ and `bandits’) – took their revenge last week, as so often in recent years.
The latest Chechen leader, Doku Umarov – all his predecessors were liquidated byRussia – claimed from his hideout in the Caucasus mountains that the subway attacks were reprisal for the recent killing of Chechen civilians by Russian security forces.
He warned Moscow, `we will make you feel what we feel.’
In recent years, Chechen `black widows’ have brought down two civilian airliners. Other Chechen hijacked an entire Moscow theater, and derailed the “Alexander Nevsky” Express that runs from Moscow to St. Petersburg.
Chechen are a tiny but fierce North Caucasian mountain people of Indo-European origin. They, and other Muslim Caucasian tribes, such as Dagestanis and Cherkass
In 1877, Imperial Russia killed 40% of the Chechen population of about 220,000. Four hundred thousand Cherkass were expelled.
Stalin, from neighboring Georgia, hated Chechen. He divided Chechnya, creating therepublic of Ingushetia. Then, in July 1937, his secret police, NKVD, shot 14,000 Chechen.
Neither bullets nor gas chambers were needed in Stalin’s death camps. A third of the prisoners died each year from cold, starvation or disease in the concentration camps. In all, some 2.5 million Soviet Muslims were murdered by Stalin, ‘the Breaker of Nations,’ among them half of the Chechen people.
In 1944, Stalin ordered the entire Chechen people rounded up and shipped in cattle cars to his Siberian concentration camps or dumped to perish into icy fields. Other Muslims followed: Ingush, Tatars, Karachai, Balkars.
In my new book, “American Raj,” I entitle the section on the Chechen, “Genocide in the Caucasus.”
Gulag survivors filtered back to Chechnya. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Chechen demanded independence like the Soviet republics.
Chechnya is a province in the Northern Caucasus and has been the site of two devastating wars between Chechen separatists and the Russian Federation. When the Russians overran Grozny in 2000, the Chechen government was exiled to various Arab countries, the U.K., the U.S. and Poland. In 2007, Ichkerian President Dokka Umarov declared himself the “emir” of a greater Caucasus Emirate, though this was rejected by pro-republican forces and members of the former Chechen government.
Instead, Boris Yeltsin’s government invaded Chechnya, killing some 100,000 Chechen civilians through massive carpet bombing and shelling. Chechen leader Dzhokar Dudayev was assassinated, reportedly thanks to telephone homing equipment supplied to Moscow by the US National Security Agency. President Bill Clinton actually lauded Boris Yeltsin as “Russia’s Abraham Lincoln.”
Incredibly, Chechen fighters managed to defeat Russia’s army and won de facto independence.
But in 1999, apartment buildings in Russia were bombed, killing some 200 people, and creating a national panic.
Chechen `terrorists’ were immediately blamed. But there was disturbing evidence that government agents staged the bombing to justify invading Chechnya.Moscow media reported that a group of Federal Security Service( FSB – the successor to the KGB’s internal security service) agents were caught red-handed planting explosives in an apartment building. They claimed the explosives were merely bags of “sugar,” part of a “test.”
An ex-FSB agent, Alexander Litvinenko, joined other critics in accusing the government of a false flag operation in staging the attacks to justify a new war against the Chechen. In 2006, Litvinenko was poisoned with radioactive polonium-210 inLondon.
Litvinenko also accused the Kremlin of being behind the murder of the crusading Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya. She told me before her death that she was marked for assassination by the government because of her stinging exposés ofRussia’s human rights violations in Chechnya.
FSB chief Vladimir Putin was catapulted into power by the anti-Chechen hysteria caused by the mysterious bombings. Two years later, the eerily similar 9/11 attacks would similarly turn George Bush from a non-entity into a hero, and provide a pretext for the US to invade Afghanistan and Iraq.
Powerful Russian forces invaded and crushed the life out of Chechen resistance. All moderate Chechen leaders were assassinated, the last in Qatar in 2004, leaving mostly militant Islamists. A Moscow-installed Chechen puppet regime imposed a rein of terror upon the population, using torture, murder, mass reprisals, hostages and rape.
The world ignored these violations but paid rapt attention to another crime, the death of over 300 Russian child hostages in the still murky school massacre at Beslan.
The outside world totally ignored the death of another 100,000 Chechen afterMoscow successfully branded them, `Islamic terrorists.’ A quarter of the Chechen people, Muslims and Russians, died from 1991 until 2010, not counting Stalin’s mass murder. But Chechen keep fighting on.
Moscow worries insurrection is spreading across its soft Caucasus underbelly. President Dimitri Medvedev made laudable efforts to humanize Russia’s rule there. But after the subway atrocity, Putin and Medvedev vow to `destroy’ remaining resistance in Chechnya, Dagestan and Ingushetia.
Moscow should end this historical tragedy by granting Chechnyaindependence. Doing so is of course risky: it could spark demands by other Caucasian Muslims for independence, and enflame some of Russia’s 20 million-strong Muslim minority – though most still appear content to live in the Russian Federation.
An independent Chechnya could also open another door to growing US penetration of the Caucasus and campaign to encircle Russia. The US and Russia came frighteningly close to a head-on clash over Georgia. The Cold War has not ended.
An independent Chechnya would be unstable and violent. But that is better than the savagery and atrocities that this terrible conflict continues to generate.
Modern Russia needs to set the Chechen free.
Copyright: Eric S. Margolis 2010
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