Friday, July 20, 2007
War without end
I keep hearing that the war in Chechnya is now over, and reading nice features in places like the New York Times and Newsweek about how pleasant it is to visit Grozny these days. Then you scan the news wires and get a very different image.
With a nod to La Russophobe, here's a look back at the week that was in "peaceful" Chechnya and the neighbouring republics of Dagestan and Ingushetia.
Interfax: Two policemen killed in attack in Chechnya - July 19 2007
AP: Drunken Russian soldier in Chechnya kills 1 officer and wounds 3 - July 19, 2007
Interfax: Seven wounded in blast at cemetery in Ingushetia (AP later puts number of injured at 10) - July 18 2007
Interfax: Explosion kills four policemen in Dagestan (see above pic of aftermath) - July 18 2007
Interfax: Ingush president's family residence comes under attack, no fatalities - official - July 17, 2007
AP: Woman, 2 children fatally shot in Russian region (re: Ingushetia) - July 16, 2007
And those are just the events that the newswires deemed worthy of reporting on. You can bet that there was plenty more below-the-media-radar violence that didn't make it to the desks of AP and Interfax. For what it's worth, the rebel-affiliated Kavkaz Center website says that five Russian soldiers were killed by the Chechen "mujahideen" on July 14 as well, and that 19 others were killed in fighting the previous week.
As someone who visited Chechnya more than once, I've always been extremely skeptical that Vladimir Putin's money and Ramzan Kadyrov's thuggishness could bring anything more than a facade of stability to a republic that is no more comfortable under Russian rule now than it was in the 19th Century.
While we're on the topic of instability in the Caucasus, I recommend that anyone interested check out the Institute for War and Peace Reporting's interesting three-part series on the arms buildup in the South Caucasus.
Clearly, Chechnya's neighbours don't believe peace in their time has arrived just yet either.