Monday, May 31, 2004

Robbing Peter to rob Paul

There are disturbing trends in Russia's (failing) actions against Chechen rebels. Kidnappings in provinces neighboring Chechnya have been attributed to the Russian secret police (successors to the KGB).
Experts have suggested that the Russian Federal Security Service could be behind the recent wave of unexplained kidnappings in the North Caucasus republic of Ingushetia. One theory is that the plan is to destabilize the area in order to flush out Chechen refugees.

Some observers, particularly human rights groups, have suggested that the kidnappings could be part of a government strategy to introduce fear and instability in Ingushetia. An unstable Ingushetia could prompt Chechen refugees to return home, while inducing fear among the Ingush themselves could prompt locals to attempt to stabilize the situation by themselves pressuring Chechen refugees to leave – especially if those abductions could be blamed on Chechen separatists.

Last weekend, an Ingush website ( published a statement allegedly from an FSB officer who had recently served in the republic, confessing to the torture and execution of people critical of the Ingush president or suspected of having links to Chechen separatists.

The Russian actions are having the expected humanitarian effect on Ingushetiya--destabilization. These accusations come at a time when Putin's plan for Chechinization--putting the government in the hands of economic elites who want stability--is failing. Rather than establishing a Chechen leadership that has local legitimacy, Putin merely replicated the pattern of authoritarian rule of Moscow and transferred it to Chechnya. As a result, Chechnya has become a totalitarian regime within the federation:
[Chechen President] Kadyrov demanded more authority from the Kremlin, and the Kremlin granted it, however reluctantly. He established a violent and cruel regime and was feared and hated by many in Chechnya. He purged his inner circle of potential rivals and put his son in charge of an armed force called the Chechen police, thus strengthening the clannish nature of the Chechen government.

Kadyrov's undisciplined and violent army harassed, kidnapped and tortured fellow Chechens suspected of collaboration with the fighters or those simply deemed disloyal. And while Kadyrov waged war against the Chechen fighters, his allies in the federal Russian forces were deeply distrustful of his armed men, and not without reason. Kadyrov had scores of enemies; several attempts had been made on his life.


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