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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

SEASON OF DISCONTENT: Russia to End Century With Familiar Ring




The twentieth century promised to be Russia's century. It became the catalog of its tragedies. To some, even that may seem inadequate. Three months before its close, a hellish mix that is Russia's last catastrophe of the 20th century has come together: talentless generals thirsting to avenge a lost war; an ambitious young officer with dreams of becoming a dictator; a half-crazy family; Shamil Basayev's made-to-order march on Dagestan; a ton of explosives brought to Moscow.


Led by blind guides and provocateurs who are fanning the flames of anti-Caucasian "patriotic" sentiment, society is being amicably taken by the hand to the abyss.


I don't know who is responsible for the explosions in Moscow - Basayev, his operatives from the Abkhazia war, or both together. After the "bomb-scare training" in Ryazan, nobody can tell anymore where the line between training and provocation, provocation and terrorism lies.


But it is evident that the bombs achieved their authors' purposes. Newspaper pages and television screens issue the same cry: Shoot the Chechens like rabid dogs.


Rights watchers and liberals compete in the mercilessness of their commentary. We do this with the same huge enthusiasm because we want to crowd the unpleasant feeling of guilt out of our consciousness. We want terribly to demonize a whole people in order to forget about what we did to them 100, 54, and four years ago.


The government is hurrying to take advantage of the hysterical mood of the people. Any military leader or politician planning a military operation tries to minimize the number of his opponents and maximize the number of his supporters.


Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is actually acting to the contrary. He is bombing Grozny in order to make talks with Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov impossible, in order to make all Chechens universally enemies of Russia. You don't plan a war like that. You plan a blood bath like that - a blood bath in which you can bury all the past crimes of the regime.


It's senseless to call for morality in an absolutely immoral society. I want to appeal to the instinct of self-preservation. Putin & Co. have already named a new Doku Zavgayev, who after stealing federal money, will run off to Africa to go elephant hunting.


The ground operation will be successful in the beginning and then will run into serious problems. Even in the small victorious war in Dagestan our casualty rate - dead and wounded - was 20 percent (some 250 killed and 750 wounded out of the 5,000 soldiers who fought).


And then - sometime in December - two ways out will be left: either a new Khasavyurt-type peace accord with full disintegration of central power in Russia, or Russia progresses up to its knees in blood toward the "final solution of the Chechen question" - and this is what our fiery pundits are calling for - "using all types of modern weaponry, to physically destroy Chechnya." In both cases, the history of Russia ends in the 20th century.


Then Pyotr Chaadayev will seem conclusively correct in writing, 150 years ago, that "we lived and continue to live to serve as an example - as a warning to other nations."