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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Press Considers Future for Peace in Chechnya

The Financial Times

President Vladimir Putin seems certain to continue with his force-first policies, with the support of most Russian public opinion. There is little the West can do to influence him. But Western leaders' recent tendency to say little about Chechnya, at least in public, for fear of offending Putin does not make the crisis go away.

It would be better to keep Chechnya on the international agenda. So far the Muslim Chechen rebels have largely operated independently from international Islamic terrorist groups. However, the longer the conflict goes on, the more likely it is that the Chechens will take their fight abroad.

It was highly unlikely that the talks regularly called for in Europe and just as regularly rejected by Moscow would have been successful. The terrorists doing the fighting merely used Maskhadov as a mouthpiece for their political demands. He ceased to be an acceptable figure for Moscow after the 1999 raid on Dagestan. At that point, he stopped being a real president, even in Chechnya.

However, his status as the elected leader of what was practically the independent republic of Ichkeria at the time allowed critics of the Kremlin to talk about legitimate representatives of Chechen separatism. They could draw a line between Maskhadov and terrorists like Shamil Basayev, as many in the West did between Yasser Arafat and Palestinian terrorist organizations. This enraged the Kremlin, which did not acknowledge Chechen separatism as a political problem unto itself.

Novye Izvestia

Maskhadov's death did not meet with universal approval. Many politicians believe that his arrest would have been far more useful. "Interrogation and talks would have given us a lot in terms of our operations," stated Vladimir Vasilyev, head of the State Duma Security Committee. State Duma Deputy Speaker Sergei Baburin agreed: "We need bandits and gang leaders alive. They should answer for what they've done." However, federal forces are stubbornly keeping to the tactic of killing rebel leaders one after another.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta

Certain politicians think that the operation [that led to Maskhadov's death] has rendered any negotiations with Chechen fighters pointless. They see it as a sign to the West: Don't demand any political process from us. For this very reason, Valentina Melnikova, the head of the Union of Soldiers' Mothers Committees, sees his death as "bad news." After Dzhokhar Dudayev was killed, she recalls, "rebels took Grozny and many people died." Many Duma deputies are making similar gloomy predictions.