My last paragraph is necessarily speculative, an existentialist conclusion of the first three. It would be counterproductive if it belied in any way the nature of the first three paragraphs.
Just for interest sake jump on GoogleEarth and zoom in on Georgia and Grozny. Sometimes obvious things like where countries are tend to clarify media terminology, for example "policing action" translates to "oil concerns" when you look up where/what Kuwait is, the context completely altered. Also search the web for material on the Georgian conflict.
The Russians in Georgia and Chechnya are very much like NATO in the Middle East and Central Asia, there is a lot of terminology floating around for what are basically very simple elements being involved.
Also keep in mind Chechnya is not a nation. The word in Russian means much the same thing as saying "Midwest" in America. It's just a region in southern Russia proper, it is in the foothills on the Russian side of the Caucasus overlooking the Kuban peninsula. Chechnya is a rural area, except for the oil field (Grozny) which was built by the Soviets back during industrialisation. Calling people who live in the Chechnya region Chechens is just like calling some Americans southerners. Giving the "Chechens" the oil field is like giving Texan farmers Fort Knox to the exclusion of the rest of the US. The "war" in Chechnya is like Texan farmers claiming Fort Knox is theirs (I dunno where Fort Knox is, Texas? you get the idea anyway).
That's why the Russian Parliament, even though it takes great exception to the Kremlin's military policies also agrees wholeheartedly they are not partisans, but are just criminals.
Russian Parliament on the other hand considers Tblisi-Georgians to be more partisan than terrorist, whilst the Kremlin regards them as terrorist. Unfortunately the Kremlin controls the CIS militaries.
There is a great disparity on the status of Tblisi based Georgian government in Russian politics, and Georgia is an independent nation, capable of demonstrating a distinct and valid cultural history which is unique and independent of the old Russian Empire of which it was a part (and thus was absorbed into the Soviet Union). Not true of Chechnya.
Georgia would've been a part of Turkey if it wasn't for inherent, culturally biased religious differences, whilst Armenia would've been part of Iran.
In terms of peoples, the Kuban is Cossack, the Caucasus Gherka and the south side of the mountains Turk. Head north or west of the Don basin and you get Slav.
edit. Only after these points are clearly observed, then it can be stated the Chechens have a valid case regarding state welfare and their abandonment in terms of infrastructure and support as a Russian rural region and industrial operation. Chechens live like a third world nation and it is a crime, seriously walking around Chechnya is like walking around Sierra Leone in Africa. Only corruption could leave an entire national region in such a state unless the entire nation was bankrupt, which it isn't.
But part of their problem is actually something most Americans would overwhelmingly support on the Russian side. It is about privatisation of the oil industry, where Chechens are effectively a welfare state who just happen to live where the oil is. Since industry is no longer state controlled, the Chechen local economy has reverted back to pre-industrial rural despite being surrounded by delapidated modern ammenities (I'm not even sure if they have a power station anymore). Under the Soviet system Chechens received community dividends of any production in their region. Simple example, schooling and services were provided by the State with coupon bonuses for being where the oil is; now they have to pay for their own schools and power and the only people mining oil there are private companies who bring their own labour. The Chechens shut this down, the military responded.
If it was in America most yanks would just say, "Get a job," and would stand in line to sign up in the military that shoots the Chechens. Personally I think it is a state responsibility to ensure a minimum living standard of all citizens and regions, which is the Chechen argument. Like you I don't agree that justifies murder, but I'm not there to see just how desperate the situation is for the man on the ground.
People have been talking about Russian atrocities in Chechnya for some time, I don't doubt it.
Last edited by vanir; 05-14-2010 at 12:58 AM.