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Mar 16, 2005 4:16 am


Chechnya



There is often an interesting essay in any particular issue of New Left Review. The issue dated November-December 2004 is no exception for it carries Tony Wood's fascinating in-depth history of Chechnya, which I found very helpful in understanding the current situation. Go here for "The Case for Chechnya".

I have long thought that the cause of Chechnyan independence has received short shrift in the West, not least because Putin has been able to play the"Terror" card. And, of course, the U.S. has its own bloody history of resisting secession and would even now surely find it more than a mite embarrassing to champion Chechnyan independence.

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Jonathan Rick - 3/17/2005

1. Richard Pipes, “Give the Chechens a Land of Their Own,” New York Times, September 9, 2004:

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/09/09/opinion/09pipes.html

Because Chechnya, unlike the Ukraine or Georgia, had never enjoyed the status of a nominally independent republic under the Communists, the Chechens were denied the right to secede from the Russian Federation after the collapse of the Soviet Union. And so they eventually resorted to terrorism for the limited objective of independence. . . .

Unfortunately, Russia’s leaders, and to some extent the populace, are loath to grant them independence -- in part because of a patrimonial mentality that inhibits them from surrendering any territory that was ever part of the Russian homeland, and in part because they fear that granting the Chechens sovereignty would lead to a greater unraveling of their federation. The Kremlin also does not want to lose face by capitulating to force. . . .

Russia, the largest country on earth, can surely afford to let go of a tiny colonial dependency, and ought to do so without delay.

2. Masha Gessen, “Chechnya,” Slate, September 4, 2004:

http://slate.msn.com/id/2106287/

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