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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Every House Needs a Toilet

President Vladimir Putin has pledged to hold a referendum in Chechnya on adopting a new constitution for the republic.

A constitution is, of course, just what Chechnya needs -- about as much as a ballerina needs a supply of Pampers. I suspect that change won't come to Chechnya until it comes to Russia as a whole, because medieval Chechnya is a miniature version of medieval Russia.

Chechnya, like Russia, has something resembling a power structure, but it's not quite clear whether that refers to the authorities or the gangsters. At any rate, the people in charge of Chechnya have no qualms about doing things that are considered crimes in the civilized world. Power in Chechnya is understood in a very primitive sense -- as the right to kidnap, to kill and to pump oil out of the ground illegally.

There can be no business in Chechnya without guns. There can be no businessmen in Chechnya apart from separatist field commanders. The main business is the trade in human beings.

Russia's economy is rather more advanced, of course. The Interior Ministry provides "protection" for businesses other than the trade in human beings. But I don't quite understand how Kalmyk Interior Minister Timofei Sasykov -- who covered his republic with underground oil refineries -- is any different from a Chechen field commander.

Chechnya is a scale model of Russia.

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English bobbies and Irish terrorists share no common ground. They have nothing to say to one another and interact only with bullets.

Chechen field commanders and Russian authorities, by contrast, speak a common language of criminality. Russia needs Chechnya as a house needs a toilet.

The first Chechen war was financed not from Russia as a whole, but from Moscow. In other regions of Russia the police helped local gangsters do battle with their Chechen competitors. The career of former Krasnoyarsk Aluminum head Anatoly Bykov began in Krasnoyarsk with a victory over gangsters from Chechnya who had moved into the area. Thanks to Bykov, the Krasnoyarsk region did not bankroll the first Chechen war. But Moscow did, because Moscow is on good terms with Chechen gangsters who have proven a financial boon to the city's cops.

The main Chechen business is kidnapping. But is it purely Chechen? Some Chechens abducted the daughter of a big-time businessman. They abducted her because he had started to get in the way of his Russian partners in crime. The policemen assigned to the case just happened to be on very good terms with those same Russian partners and when they arrived in Chechnya, they handed over the ransom money but somehow forgot to bring the girl home.

Being Chechen in Russia is a profession. If you need someone locked up, go to the cops. But if you need someone annihilated, go to the Chechens.

Being Russian in Chechnya is also a profession. Why is our army fighting in Chechnya, you may ask? To bring the war to an end? Not quite. Any military operation in reality achieves two goals: allowing the brass to write off huge quantities of diesel fuel and ordnance, and multiplying the number of terrorists. Which is to say that these operations ensure more work for the army, and more profit for the generals.

Is there a way to end the war in Chechnya?

No. Not for good, anyway.

But Chechnya could be raised to the level of Northern Ireland, where the only terrorists are the people who really want to be terrorists, not just people whose sisters have been raped, their husbands executed and their fathers murdered. This is why the Irish terrorists evoke no one's compassion.

For Chechnya to become Northern Ireland, however, Russia would have to become Britain. The civilian authorities, the army and law enforcement would all have to conceive of their functions in a fundamentally different way. For starters, they would have to stop relieving themselves in the toilet called Chechnya.

There's no point cleaning the toilet when the entire house is covered in filth.

Yulia Latynina is author and host of "Yest Mneniye" on TVS.