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#11 - JRL 7005
Russian pundits disagree on decision to end OSCE mission to Chechnya

Moscow, 5 January: Moscow's refusal to prolong the mandate of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe OSCE assistance group in Chechnya will not entail any serious consequences for Russia, director of the Institute of Political Studies Sergey Markov has told Interfax.

He looks at this decision "simply as the continuation of a conflict between the Russian authorities and European public opinion, and as further discussion of methods that should be used in Chechnya".

Many European politicians are refusing to qualify Chechen terrorism as part of international terrorism, and view it as the Chechen people's struggle for freedom against Russian imperialism. "This particular logic was guiding the OSCE in 1995-96, when it played the same role with regards to the Chechen terrorists as Chamberlain did with regards to Hitler by forcing Czechoslovakia to capitulate to the German fascists in 1938," said Markov. Likewise, the OSCE forced Russia to capitulate to the Chechen rebels in 1996, which was followed by severe reprisals in Chechnya and by the first moves to implement a plan for seizing the North Caucasus, he said.

Russia's refusal to prolong the OSCE's mandate shows that Moscow is rejecting the policy of being forced towards a situation reminiscent of the "Munich deal". Experience shows that capitulation to the worst enemy menacing mankind is counterproductive, said Markov.

However, it is indicative of the absence of mutual understanding between Russia and Europe, which is slowing down Russia's integration with the European political and economic system.

First Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council's Defence and Security Committee Valeriy Manilov does not think the OSCE's mandate should be prolonged. "The OSCE's role in normalizing the situation in Chechnya was not great," he told Interfax on Sunday 5 January .

OSCE representatives are often guided by double standards in assessing the situation in Chechnya. "As a rule, they focused their attention on negative things and disregarded positive changes," Manilov said. "The termination of the OSCE's mission in Chechnya will not be a serious loss," he said.

Meanwhile, president of the Politika Foundation Vyacheslav Nikonov described Moscow's decision as "short-sighted".

He told Interfax that "only Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has been at odds with the OSCE in the past few years, as a result of which he has been denied the opportunity to travel abroad".

Attempts to blame the OSCE for using double standards cannot be a pretext for terminating its mission. "There are no other standards in the world. If we are to remain a civilized nation, we must observe the rules of the game," he said. "This is not a serious reaction and it is putting Russia in an awkward position," Nikonov said.

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