The New York Times reports today in Russia Grieves for Children and Putin Vents His Fury about an article in The Guardian (Candid Putin Offers Praise and Blame) that describes an extraordinary three and one-half hour colloquy with “foreign journalists and academics with long experience of Russia” after the Beslan terrorist attack. In it, Putin lashed out at those who called for a public inquiry into the catastrophe:
Putin refused to order a public inquiry into how the Beslan school was captured by gunmen and then ended with such a high death toll, and told the Guardian that people who call for talks with Chechen leaders have no conscience.
“Why don’t you meet Osama bin Laden, invite him to Brussels or to the White House and engage in talks, ask him what he wants and give it to him so he leaves you in peace? Why don’t you do that?” he said with searing sarcasm.
“You find it possible to set some limitations in your dealings with these bastards, so why should we talk to people who are childkillers?
“No one has a moral right to tell us to talk to childkillers,” he added. .
This of course begs the question. Hardly anyone suggests that the way to end the Chechen conflict is by sitting down with Shamil Basayev and attempting to negotiate a settlement. Similarly, I never heard of anyone who called for us to do this with Osama bin Laden. So what Putin is doing here is setting up a smoke screen to distract from the real issues which are: how to resolve the Chechen conflict and how to avoid another terror attack within Russia. With Putin’s current intransigent and bellicose approach there will certainly be no resolution and more terrorist attacks will happen.
Striking the table with the side of his right hand, he said there was no connection between Russian policies in Chechnya and the events in Beslan.
What planet is this guy living on? You deny Chechens any form of real self-government, you murder them in their houses and rape their women with impunity and he still claims there is no connection between this and Beslan?? The man is living in a world of delusion.
The president made it clear he sees the drive for Chechen independence as the spearhead of a strategy by Chechen Islamists, helped by foreign fundamentalists, to undermine the whole of southern Russia and even stir up trouble among Muslim communities in other parts of the country.
“There are Muslims along the Volga, in Tatarstan and Bashkortostan. Chechnya isn’t Iraq. It’s not far away. It’s a vital part of our territory. This is all about Russia’s territorial integrity,” he said.
This sounds to me like an echo of the old Czarist visions of an imperial Russia replete with far flung colonies and territories. Didn’t this vision die with the demise of the former Soviet Union??
And here is the crowning example of Putin delusion:
Russia was interested in a political solution in Chechnya, he insisted. It was going to hold elections to a Chechen parliament there shortly “and we will try to attract as many people as possible with different views to take part”.
Instead of “as many people as possible with different views,” read “as many servile, sycophantic or power-hungry Chechens willing to collaborate with us.”
“We will strengthen law enforcement by staffing the police with Chechens, and gradually withdraw our troops to barracks, and leave as small a contingent as we feel necessary, just like the US does in California and Texas,” he said.
Yes, Chechen police will work as successfully in Chechnya as Iraqi police and army forces have worked in Iraq for the U.S. occupation. Last I checked, Texas and California were willing participants in the federal union. If Chechnya were as happy to be within the Russian orbit as California and Texas are to be in our federal system, then we would have no problem. I’d say a better analogy would be to the Confederate States during the Civil War.
He could not agree that a war was still going on there five years after he first sent in troops. “It is a smouldering conflict. There have been attacks but not like the big operations of 1999,” he said.
George Bush claims he is at war with terrorists in Iraq and around the gobe, but Putin isn’t at war in Chechnya. It’s merely a mop up police action with a few “skirmishes.” What does he call subway bombings, multiple airline bombings and finally the Beslan tragedy? A mere skirmish?? Vladimir Putin is a sorry example of a national leader.