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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

EDITORIAL: A Reformer Speaks Out On the War




"It is impossible to resolve the problem of a legal and political settlement in Chechnya with force. It is [also] impossible to deal with terrorists in any other way. We will have to resolve the problem of a legal and political settlement in Chechnya with legal and political methods. The country is standing before a very dangerous boundary - of becoming infatuated with solving problems through force, of going beyond the boundary of acceptable measures for combatting terrorism. It is a very thin line. And this is the main danger today for the country. Because we will resolve nothing today through the use of force. This is the responsibility of the politicians sitting here today. [However,] We cannot stop the military operation and bring the troops home. We must find a way of gradually turning the use of a force operation into a political-legal settlement. For this there are ways and proposals."


- Sergei Kiriyenko, leader of the Union of Right Forces.


So let's get this straight. To hear Kiriyenko tell it, regarding Chechnya:


a) "Force" will solve nothing.


b) Terrorists must be dealt with, however, by "force."


c) The country is too enamoured of using "force."


d) To reiterate, we will solve nothing today through the use of "force."


e) So of course we cannot stop the military operation. (After all, as General Vladimir Shamanov told us this weekend, it is "a sacred thing.")


f) We must find a way of turning the "force operation" into a political-legal settlement - which, however, is impossible.


g) For all of this there are ways and proposals.


This was the scene on Sunday's "Itogi" program as Russia's shiniest new reform penny twisted and turned - trying to keep his liberal credentials, while simultaneously trying to evade even the slightest whiff of questioning the war that propelled the young reformers back into relevance.


Kiriyenko's lone intellectual ally was Communist Duma Deputy Ivan Melnikov, who said of Chechnya, "The vector of development is headed in the right direction."


By contrast, Fatherland-All Russia's Georgy Boos, was reasonably articulate in questioning the morals of a war that is falling so heavily and recklessly on civilians. Vladimir Zhirinovsky was at least clear in his argument that Vladimir Putin is a wimp and the war needs to be more vicious. And Grigory Yavlinsky again proved himself the lone Russian liberal - Yavlinsky from the start said he supported an anti-terrorist operation, and then, in response to escalating civilian casualties, called for a rethink. He's right.