Кстати, что это за "Институт Стратегических Исследований" в Москве?
Putin's Blind Alley in Chechnya
By Andrei Piontkovsky
Tuesday, March 30, 2004; Page A19
MOSCOW -- Russia's second war in Chechnya, which broke out in the autumn of 1999, transformed a virtually unknown colonel, Vladimir Putin, into the country's president and a national hero. Voters saw in Putin a man who would defend Russia against terrorism and resolve the country's most urgent problem.
This month Putin was elected to a second term by a landslide. The paradox of his return to power is that he has lost none of his popularity, even though he has failed to deliver on his promise to bring an end to the conflict in Chechnya. Indeed, in the course of Putin's first term, the Chechen war came to Moscow; a series of terrorist incidents linked to Chechen extremists killed dozens of people. More than 40 died in an explosion on a Moscow subway train on Feb. 6.
Every new act of terror now calls forth the same reaction from the Russian elite: In the first day or two, a great number of enraged "patriotic" declarations are made. Afterward, silence -- until the next horrific act takes place.
Both the hysterical calls for revenge and the deafening silence that follows prove that everyone, including those who make these declarations, understands that our policy in Chechnya is leading us down a blind alley. After the Feb. 6 bombing we heard calls for the reintroduction of the death penalty, exhortations to "burn them out with hot irons," to "go to the end." The front page of Russia's biggest-selling daily carried the words of a father who had lost his son: "I will kill them all now, wherever I meet them."
We should remember the words of a Russian military officer named Leo Tolstoy, who fought in an earlier phase of Russia's apparently endless war in the Caucasus. He wrote after a "cleansing operation" in a Chechen mountain village: "The feeling that the Chechens, from the small to the great, had toward the Russians was much more than simple hatred . . ."
Amid all these calls to "go to the end" -- that is, inflict maximum destruction -- we forget how many times we have "gone to the end" already, scorched all that was combustible and used the death penalty -- for preventive means, apparently -- on tens of thousands of our own peaceful citizens. And there is no doubt that on the other side there are many people saying, "I will kill them all now, wherever I meet them."
In the 20th century, terrorism was used mainly as an instrument to achieve political goals, and there are still recent or current conflicts -- in Northern Ireland, the Basque country, Sri Lanka, Indonesia -- where separatists use violence against a metropolitan power to try to win greater autonomy or independence.
But the 21st century has given us a phenomenon that might be termed "metaphysical terrorism." Practiced chiefly by Islamic radicals associated with al Qaeda, it is not about achieving political goals, such as independence. It simply rejects Western civilization in principle and seeks its destruction.
This distinction is important for Russia, because in the 1990s we had much experience with Chechen separatists' use of violence as a political instrument. The challenge we face today is of a different order: It is metaphysical terrorism, and in this case it is a monster largely of our own creation.
The Russian leadership constantly reiterates that it is not fighting Chechen separatists but international terrorists, and this has finally become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Thanks to the methods with which we have waged this war, we have turned practically the whole population of Chechnya into enemies and created for metaphysical terrorism a huge reservoir of living bombs -- desperate people ready to carry out the plans of the terrorists.
After the recent subway attack, Putin said that Russia does not talk to terrorists, it exterminates them. I think this betrays a misunderstanding of the kind of terror we are facing. We could understand if, after a bomb blast, someone from a "liberation front" called us and said, "We have blown up the subway. If in two weeks' time you do not carry out this or that demand, we will explode another bomb. We are offering to negotiate."
But in our situation, there is no such message. What comes to mind is the title of a Gabriel Garcia Marquez short-story collection, "No One Writes to the Colonel." The answer to Putin's statement is silence, which means: "We do not talk to the Russians, we blow them up in the subway."
What is to be done, then? At every turn Russia has chosen the worst option. All the same, one paradoxical observation is worth making. The classical enemies we are supposedly waging war against -- the pro-independence Chechen president and his supporters -- are, in fact, our allies in the war against global terrorism. Why? Because global terrorism is destroying Chechnya, and the goal we must all strive for now is to split Chechen separatism from global terrorism.
This can be done. No one from Chechnya, including President Aslan Maskhadov and his "foreign minister," currently living in the United States, seriously believes anymore in Chechen independence. The very words "independence" and "territorial integrity" have lost all meaning amid the tragedy still unfolding for the Chechen and Russian peoples. The only prospects that have any meaning for Chechens are an end to the violence of Russian forces and their pro-Moscow Chechen henchmen and the promise of talks with those who do not plan or carry out acts of terrorism.
The final disturbing paradox of the Chechen tragedy is that all the calls for retribution in Russia are helping subsume this vast country into the cycle of violence begun in small Chechnya. We began a fight to keep Chechnya inside Russia, and we have ended up imprisoning Russia inside Chechnya.
The writer is director of the Institute for Strategic Studies in Moscow.