Putin’s “War on Terror” aka genocide of the Chechen nation enjoys many parallels with the West’s “War on Terror” aka War on Islam. Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed offers his analysis of US and Western connivance with Putin’s genocidal policy in Chechnya.
From 1994-96, the Russians waged yet another war to crush the Chechens’ popular plea for self-determination. Though the Chechens eventually managed to drive Russia out, Russian forces still succeeded in slaughtering 100,000 Chechens, wounding 240,000, and scattering 17 million anti-personnel land mines across the country. Russia had used “mass artillery, rocket barrages, and airstrikes to smash Chechen villages and towns”, “conducted wide scale torture, and razed most of Chechnya to the ground”, reports the Toronto Sun. The former Soviet Union’s imperialist imperative had also received wholehearted support from its former Cold War enemy, the United States. “President Bill Clinton… helped finance Russia’s war in Chechnya.” Clinton had “lent Yeltsin $11 billion to finance the operation”, and “even went to Moscow, lauded Yeltsin, likened Russia’s savage repression of tiny Chechnya to America’s civil war, and had the effrontery to call Yeltsin ‘Russia’s Abraham Lincoln’.” The extent of American support for Russia’s campaign to subjugate the Chechen people was even clearer when in 1996, “Clinton reportedly ordered the CIA to supply Moscow top-secret electronic targeting devices that allowed the Russians to assassinate Chechen president, Dzhokar Dudayev, while he was conducting peace negotiations with Moscow on his cell phone.”
Along with its European subordinates, the US has chosen not to expose the vacuity of Russia’s pretext for its war [the false flag apartment bombings in which FSB agents were caught red-handed], but has instead expressed open agreement that Russia has a problem with Chechen “terrorism” – this consent to Russian propaganda has ominous implications which we shall be returning to in due course.
Rather than being a response to terrorism, as Dr. Aslambek Kadiev explained to the BBC: “There are two main reasons for the two wars which Russia has launched against Chechnya. The first is economic. Russia wants to control the Caucasus oil fields and pipeline routes. The second is connected with the political situation in Russia, and particularly inside the Kremlin… The political purpose of the first Chechen war was to increase Boris Yeltsin’s popularity and get him re-elected as president in 1996. The main aim of this second war is to ensure that Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, a former [KGB] spy and President Yeltsin’s anointed heir, becomes president at the next elections. The apartment bombings in Russian cities early this year were used by Russia to justify its invasion.”
Russia utilised its propaganda-bombing swiftly, immediately demonising the Chechen people, and carrying out mass arrests in Moscow. Soon about 11,000 people were rounded up by Russian police, hundreds of whom were Chechen and many others who were of Caucasian descent. President Boris Yeltsin ordered an “intensified security regime” for airports, railway stations, markets and other areas. “We should not be afraid to cross into Chechen territory to destroy militants and restore constitutional order,” declared General Vladimir Ustinov. Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev elaborated, asserting that if air strikes were ordered, bombings would occur “thoughout the territory of Chechnya, irrespective of where the bandits are.” Meanwhile, “civilian militias” began forming within areas of Moscow to patrol the cellars and entrances of apartment houses. The Russian newspaper Izvestia reported that “the population has decided to build up its own form of security, having recognised that the state could not guarantee their safety. Bewilderment and fear are gradually being transformed into hatred, and the slogan ‘for every house in Moscow, a village in Chechnya’ has become enormously popular.”
By April, according to other reports, an estimated 40,000 Chechen civilians has been killed as a result of the war. Chechen president Aslan Maskhadov had appealed in vain to US President Bill Clinton to take measures to prevent the “genocide of the Chechen people.” Foreign minister Iyas Akhmadov stated: “The Chechen people are now standing on the threshold of total destruction.” Clearly, Russian Generals were living up to their repeated vows to “exterminate” the Chechens.
Extermination certainly seemed to be a primary motive. On 4 February 2000, Russian air and ground forces deliberately targeted the Chechen village of Katyr Yurt, west of Grozny. The village was occupied by hundreds of refugees fleeing the fighting elsewhere in Chechnya, as well as its regular inhabitants. The devastating onslaught commenced in the early morning, with three planes bombing until mid-afternoon. Russian ground troops moved in after the buildings were bombed to loot and kill any other survivors. Particularly horrifying was the departure of a civilian convoy assembled in the afternoon. The convoy had been promised safe passage out of the village by Russia through a certain road accordingly dubbed a ‘safe corridor’. “As it departed, down a two-kilometre road on the western edge of Katyr Yurt, each vehicle bearing large white flags made of blankets, it too came under systematic attack,” reports Dispatches. “Whole families, old men, women and children, were slaughtered. Eye witnesses and survivors counted the number of the dead at 363. Many of the bodies, they reported, were simply piled into mass graves by Russian soldiers. The war crime at Katyr Yurt is one of the dirtiest episodes in Russia’s dirty war in Chechnya.” Dispatches reporter John Sweeney, met with survivors and eyewitnesses at the border with Russia, and then at the village itself. They testified that “the Russian army had herded Chechen civilians into vehicles and then deliberately opened fire on them as they drove down the supposedly ‘safe corridor’ to the border.” Dispatches further notes that “far from being an isolated incident, carried out by low-ranking soldiers in the heat of battle, the Katyr Yurt massacre was just one of a series of atrocities reported by refugees of this bloody war.” The Emmy-award winning team of investigative reporters “found that the finger of blame pointed right back to the man in charge at the Kremlin itself.”
Additionally, “Russian soldiers have been raping Chechen women in areas of Russian-controlled Chechnya” according to a team of Human Rights Watch investigators in Ingushetia. Numerous eyewitness testimonies confirm that cases of the rape of Chechen girls and women by Russian soldiers is high. The nature of these cases can be gleaned from the consideration of even just a single incident referred to by HRW, narrated by “Zaman”, a Chechen women aged 55 from the village of Alkhan-Yurt. Zaman testified that at one time five or six women were raped in her village “including one old woman like me. At night at 2:00 or 3:00 a.m., the soldiers came into the cellar. Some soldiers would stand guard, aiming their guns at [the people in the cellar] while the others were raping.” Rape is also likely to be under-reported in Chechnya. Zaman stated: “A lot of women were raped, but our people won’t talk about it – these women have to marry.” HRW reports that “Zaman broke out in tears as she described the extreme precautions she and her neighbors had to take to protect their young daughters from rape: ‘There were five young women with us in the cellar: my three daughters aged twenty-six, twenty, and twelve, and our neighbor’s girls, aged eighteen and nineteen. We made a pit outside in the yard near the stables. We put a pipe [for air] in the pit, covered it with earth, and the five girls were staying in that pit. The soldiers used to come by and say, ‘Where are the young girls, we need three girls for each soldier.’ So we kept the girls in the pit. The girls were kept there for several days.”
What has been the response of the ‘international community’ to Russia’s terrorism? A brief review is revealing. Mariano Aguirre, Director of the Spain-based Centro de Investigación para la Paz (CIP) in Madrid, comments: “In its ignoring of the plight of the Chechen population, the international attitude – that of the US, the EU, the UN Security Council and the World Bank – has been disappointing and cynical… Those leaders, politicians, intellectuals, journalists and representatives of the armed forces who became indignant over Serb repression of Albanians in Kosovo (an autonomous province of Serbia) and who flew the flag of armed humanitarianism during the NATO operation have remained silent over Russian repression in Chechnya.”
Near the end of February, the Guardian reported that acting Russian president Vladimir Putin, the major masterminder of the whole sordid operation, “has been sitting amid the refurbished splendour of the Kremlin for the past month courteously receiving one western visitor after another while his troops simultaneously smash a city the size of Edinburgh to pieces, beyond the point of reconstruction and recovery.
Prime Minister Blair mouthed similar sentiments. A Blair spokesman admitted that “Russia is too important a country to ignore or isolate over Chechnya” – with its 13 per cent of the world’s oil and 36 per cent of its natural gas reserves. “We recognise that the Russians do have a serious problem with terrorism”, Blair himself told the BBC’s Robin Oakley.
Accordingly, other Western secret services including the US and German, “provided Moscow with intelligence on Chechen rebels whom Russia blames for last year’s bombing campaign on it’s population.” German government sources revealed that “German and Russian agents swapped low-grade intelligence”on Chechen rebels, while “The Americans, the British and the French gave much more data”, reported one unnamed German agent. According to the German government’s secret service coordinator Ernst Uhrlau, “Moscow asked Western governments for help last year after [the] bombing campaign [that] killed over 300 people” and which had in fact been organised by Russian secret services in the first place.
Unless the ideology underpinning our national and international society undergoes a radical ‘spiritual’ revision, all our actions will remain fixed within the mechanics of the existing structures, whose intrinsic disharmony is blatantly evident for all to see, if only they have the courage. For people who consider themselves ‘humane’, who consider themselves decent and rational, this issue is a moral imperative that we cannot afford to ignore. “Those who observe a monstrous crime and do nothing share guilt for it”, Eric Margolis observes of the ‘international community’ whose members only act for the sake of their own material interests.