by Enver Masud (sub-editorial by Abu Khalid)
Taken from The Wisdom Fund
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The United States set the example, is providing billions in aid to Russia, and so it must share responsibility for Russia’s genocidal war on Chechnya.
On September 18, following a meeting between Russian investigators and officials at the FBI, the Associated Press reported that the State Department and FBI chief Louis Freeh offered “technical and investigative assistance” to the Russian government in its investigation of four explosions in apartment buildings in Moscow that killed more than 300 people.
Russian authorities accuse Chechen freedom fighters of being responsible for the bombings. The Chechens have denied responsibility, but are “the preferred scapegoat” according to analysts at Stratfor.com.
A state of emergency could benefit president Yeltsin, who would like to see the December elections postponed until he can ensure a loyal successor.
Says Stratfor.com “Yeltsin’s opponents, such as former Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov, have long feared that Yeltsin would call a state of emergency for political gain. The recent bombings could give him the excuse to do this legitimately.”
Despite the lack of evidence against the Chechens, Russia launched massive, indiscriminate attacks on Chechnya.
The BBC reports that refugees arriving at the border with the neighboring republic of Ingushetia have been giving “consistent accounts of death and destruction caused by Russian troops.” Refugees say people are being killed as they try to flee the Russian bombardment.
An estimated 200,000 refugees have fled to Ingushetia. About 3000 have been killed, and 10,000 wounded. Chechnya’s president Aslan Maskhadov has appealed to President Clinton to halt the “genocide of the Chechen people.”
Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin cites the U.S. example to justify the attack on Chechnya. Says Mr. Putin, “Exactly the same tactics were deployed during Operation Desert Storm, in the bombing of the former Yugoslavia and in the various United States attempts to strike back at the world’s most wanted terrorist — Osama bin Laden.”
Meanwhile billions in U.S. dollars continue to flow to Russia through the International Monetary Fund.
Contrast this with President Clinton’s threat to delay a $42 billion IMF loan package to get Indonesia to agree to the UN intervention in East Timor. And now reports have emerged that the recent killings in East Timor were greatly exagerrated — presumably to justify UN intervention.
Contrast this also with the UN sanctions initiated today against Afghanistan for its refusal to surrender Osama bin Laden to the U.S. The U.S. accuses bin Laden of masterminding the bombing of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, but refuses to provide evidence to back its claim.
“The Chechen people are now standing on the threshold of total destruction,” says foreign minister Iyas Akhmadov. They have suffered for 250 years under Russian colonial rule, and are mere pawns caught up in the superpower’s scramble for Caspian Sea oil. _________________________________________
The type of atrocities in Chechnya has been described by ReliefWeb as such:
“Russian troops are running amuck in Chechnya, looting homes and executing civilians, a respected rights group charged Wednesday amid new reports of marauding in the breakaway republic. The watchdog Memorial also condemned the pan-European Council of Europe for failing to reprimand the Russian government for its soldiers’ behavior. The group charged that Russian “death squads” were now roaming the North Caucasus republic, attacking civilians and exhorting bribes, while Western governments paid lip service to the alleged atrocities.” – ReliefWeb document on Chechnya.
These incidents largely get ignored by the media, occasionally it does make the the mass media, numerous human rights groups have reported on these atrocities, yet not once do we see the outrage one would expect from the major Western nations when a non-ally engages in genocide, such as Serbia in Kosovo, the Washington Post elaborates on the brutality of the Russians:
“According to Russian human rights groups, the offensive began Dec. 30, while most of the world was distracted by New Year’s celebrations. Russian forces swept into the village of Tsotsin-Yurt and, according to the group Memorial, began shooting Chechen men indiscriminately. According to the official Russian account, more than 100 were killed over the course of several days; the independent Glasnost organization reported finding 200 corpses of civilians. “None of them was identified as a rebel,” the group reported, “but relatives were not allowed to take the bodies for burial unless they signed a testimony that the killed person belonged to the Chechen rebels.” The Russian forces then sealed off the town of Argun, beginning Jan. 3, and launched a “cleansing operation,” in which hundreds are typically rounded up, beaten and in many cases killed; the survivors are released to their relatives in exchange for ransom payments.“
When we see attempts by organisations to put this question of Russian genocide to the world though the UN, the UN comes up with:
“Geneva, April 19, 2002) — Human Rights Watch today expressed disappointment at the failure of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights to adopt a resolution on Chechnya. The 15 to 16 vote, with 22 abstentions, followed new evidence from Human Rights Watch and others about Russia’s failure to end abuses by its military forces in Chechnya and to bring the perpetrators to justice. Introduced by the European Union, the resolution would have condemned Russia’s ongoing abuses in Chechnya and pressed the Russian government to establish a national commission of inquiry to investigate them, as well as to cooperate with the U.N. rights monitors.“
If this is the type of “justice” they hand out when their allies commit so much crimes, is it really confusing then why Muslim people, not their government’s have a resentment for the West? This is complicity no less, as a combination of political support and economic support is just short of taking part in the operations themselves:
“The Clinton administration, trying to avoid increasing instability in Russia, has been conspicuously – almost embarrassingly – muted in its admonitions to the Kremlin. At the European summit in Istanbul on Nov. 18, Clinton endorsed Russia’s right to go after terrorists in Chechnya and limited his criticism to an admonition to try to avoid civilian casualties. Yeltsin challenged the right of the West to criticize. If the Russian Army, now apparently in full control of the operation, has made any effort to avoid civilian casualties, it has not been evident. Yet, while Clinton talked in Seattle of sanctions in support of labor’s rights, he avoided any suggestion of sanctions in support of human rights in the beleaguered Caucasus region. Republican presidential candidates have shown no such restraint. Texas Gov. George W. Bush has said that a government that kills women and children does not merit support from international lending institutions. Sen. John McCain said that all international funding for Russia should be cut off. On the Democratic side, Bill Bradley had taken a soft position, saying that “we must recognize that Russia is in charge of Russia.” But more recently, he escalated his rhetoric, condemning Russian actions as “morally irresponsible,” but without calling for sanctions.” – Christian Science Monitor report.
“Boris Yeltsin’s unpopular war effort in Chechnya got a huge shot in the arm recently when President Clinton personally rammed a U.S. loan of $10.2 billion for the Russian Federation through the International Monetary Fund. Approximately half of that money will go straight to the military occupation of Chechnya. Clinton publicly endorsed the war by saying he backed Russia’s need to “maintain its territorial integrity.”“
Yet we know that Russia is engaged in serious abuse of human rights, in fact it has been termed as genocide, and yet we see that the US giving not only political support, and therefore credence to Russia’s campaign in Chechnya, but financial support as well, which is complicity in this war. This then is one more reason why the US is hated.
In 1999, Chechen fighters invaded neighbouring Dagestan, in order to understand why this happened, we should look into the history three Russian states in the Caucuses; Ingushetia, Chechnya and Dagestan, which were at one time one nation which was divided during Soviet times:
“The 1999-2000 crisis in Chechnya is merely the latest episode in a grim, three-centuries long oppression of Muslims under Russian colonial dominion. The Chechens, who have lived in the mountains and plains of Chechnya since the first millenium BC, are a subjugated people thanks to Russian rule, according to Peter Daniel DiPaola. “To many westerners, Muslims often seem like constant trouble-makers or, worse, terrorists”, observes US foreign correspondent Eric Margolis for the Canadian newspaper the Toronto Sun. “But let us recall the Muslim world was the principal victim of rapacious 19th and 20th century European and Russian colonialism. The majority of France’s, Holland’s, and Russia’s colonial subjects, and almost half of Britain’s, were Muslims.” During the last 250 years or so, the Muslim people of the Caucasus – Chechen, Ingush, Circassians, Abkhaz, and Dagestanis – have repeatedly attempted to revolt against the repressive rule of imperialist Russia, with the largest rebellion occurring in the mid-1800s under the leadership of the Dagestani Imam, Sheikh Shamil. Russia’s priority has consistently been to crush these uprisings that threaten its’s hegemony over millions of Muslims. In the process of clamping down on all these revolts, Russia has even managed to attempt genocide at least twice. For example, in the 1940s 14,000 Chechens and Ingush – 3 per cent of their entire populations – were shot and killed by Stalin’s secret police, their bodies then dumped into a pit. The act is comparable to the mass murder of Jews in the pit at Babi Yar, committed four years before by Hitler’s forces. Stalin later proceeded to ‘cleanse’ almost all 1.5 million Chechens, forcibly deporting them to concentration camps in Siberia. About 25 per cent of them died in these camps. Another 2 million Muslims in the former Soviet Union, including Dagestanis, were similarly evicted to join their dying brothers and sisters in Stalin’s death camps. Eric Margolis thus notes that the Chechens are “the children of a nation that has three times nearly been exterminated by Russian genocide: in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, the last when Stalin had tens of thousands of Chechens shot and the remainder of the Chechen people deported to Siberian concentration camps.” David Damren, an Associate Faculty Member in the Department of Religious Studies at Arizona State University, provides an overview of Russia’s attempts to wipe out both the Chechen people and their Islamic faith: “During WWII, when disturbances occurred in Chechnya in 1940 and again in 1943, Stalin responded with astonishing brutality that bordered on genocide. Accusing them of still unproven collaboration with Nazi Germany, in 1944 he forcibly relocated six entire Caucasian nationalities, including the whole Chechen and Ingush populations, to special camps in Central Asia. All told, more than a million Muslims from the Caucasus were deported, with tremendous loss of life. By some estimates one third to one-half of the population of Chechen-Ingushetia alone – well over 250,000 people – disappeared after the republic was liquidated in February 1944.” – The smashing of Chechnya
The first war of succession from the Russian state in modern times took place from 1994 to 1995, in which the Chechens succeeded in winning de-facto independence from Russia, after the Russians received considerable help from the USA and the IMF. Several years followed and then we witnessed border tensions in Chechnya from repeated Russian incursions into Chechnya from Dagestan by Russian troops, this eventually flared up into the Chechen invasion of Dagestan, which was also partly to do with the national secessionist aspirations of the Muslim Caucasian people too, then we had the incidences of bombings in Russian cities, to which the Russian government put the blame on the Chechens, even though to this day no evidence has been furnished to implicate any Chechen in this crime. Asides from the unilateral invasion of Chechnya, which President Bill Clinton gave support for but which violated the UN charter, evidence emerged implicating the Russian FSB in the bombings, leading to the conclusion that Russia pre-planned the second invasion of Chechnya:
“Dr. Kadeiv’s observations were confirmed when the Independent obtained a videotape in which Russian officer Lieutenant Galtan testified: “I know who is responsible for the bombings in Moscow [and Dagestan]. It is the FSB [Russian security service], in cooperation with the GRU [Russian military intelligence service], that is responsible for the explosions in Volgodonsk and Moscow.” Further evidence arose when on 22 September 1999, a third bomb was discovered in the basement of a block of flats 100 miles south of Moscow. Local residents had noticed two men and a woman acting suspiciously and called the local police, who then arrested them. The police discovered explosive devices hidden in what looked to be bags of sugar. It was soon discovered that the suspects planting the devices were Russian FSB agents. According to Russian bomb squad officer Yuri Tkachenko, who defused the third bomb, “It was a live bomb”, made of the same explosive as the previous bombs (Hexagen). Its detonator had been set for 5:30AM, and would probably have killed most of the 250 tenants of the block of flats it was planted in. Boris Kagarlitsy, a member of the Russian Institute for Comparative Politics, stated: “FSB officers were caught red-handed while planting the bomb. They were arrested by the police and they tried to save themselves by showing FSB identity cards.” The first man to enter the basement, Police Inspector Andrei Chernyshev, related: “It was about 10 in the evening. There were some strangers who were seen leaving the basement. We were told about the men who came out from the basement and left the car with a licence number which was covered with paper. I went down to the basement. This block of flats had a very deep basement which was completely covered with water. We could see sacks of sugar and in them some electronic device, a few wires and a clock. We were shocked. We ran out of the basement and I stayed on watch by the entrance and my officers went to evacuate the people.” Despite the arrest of the FSB officers by the police, they were quietly released when the secret service’s Moscow headquarters intervened. The Observer reports that the next day, in an attempt to cover-up the discovery, “the FSB in Moscow announced that there had never been a bomb, only a training exercise.” The fact of Russian complicity had been finally confirmed once again when Sergei Stephashin, Russian Interior and Prime Minister for most of last year (he was Interior Minister up to May and then Prime Minister until August, therefore having been at the centre of Russian decision-making), testified according to British correspondent Patrick Cockburn that “Russia made its plans to invade Chechnya six months before the bombing of civilian targets in Russia and the Chechen attack on Dagestan which were the official pretext for launching the war. His account wholly contradicts the official Russian version… which claims that it was only as a result of ‘terrorist’ attacks last August and September  that Russia invaded Chechnya.” Stephasin himself testified that the plan to send the Russian army into Chechnya “had been worked out in March ”, and he had played a central role in organising the military build up before the invasion. He stated that the invasion “had to happen even if there were no explosions in Moscow”. Cockburn points out: “The revelation by Mr Stepashin, that Russia planned to go to war long before it has previously admitted, lends support to allegations in the Russian press that the invasion of Dagestan in August and the bombings in September were arranged by Moscow to justify its invasion of Chechnya.”” – Ibid.
In spite of this information, we have America declaring Russia has the right to fight terrorism, even though Russia illegally invaded Chechnya without furnishing proof for Chechen responsibility for terrorism and the USA twice ignoring the fact that Chechnya had a legitimate right to succeed, as it was a colony of Russia. The complicity is further shown by the inaction of most of the world in not taking action against Russia, only issuing statements which have no effect whatsoever. These atrocities are happening at no action is taking place to stop Russia from doing this, this impotence then drives people to support radical groups in opposing the West. A rethinking of long-term strategy is in order if the West truly wants to get rid of terrorism.
List of Human Rights Watch reports on Chechnya: