#7 - JRL 7140
April 10, 2003
RUSLAN KHASBULATOV: KADYROV IS BECOMING A MINI-SADDAM
Peace in Chechnya requires intervention of the international community
Author: Andrei Riskin
[from WPS Monitoring Agency, www.wps.ru/e_index.html]
CHECHNYA NEEDS A SPECIAL STATUS GUARANTEED BY THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY. THIS WILL HAPPEN, SOONER OR LATER, REGARDLESS OF THE STAND THE KREMLIN CHOOSES TO TAKE. RUSSIAN LEADERS HAVE FAILED TO SOLVE THE PROBLEM OF CHECHNYA. WE SHOULD ASK FOR HELP FROM THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY.
An interview with Ruslan Khasbulatov
RUSLAN KHASBULATOV, DIRECTOR OF THE WORLD ECONOMY DEPARTMENT AT THE PLEKHANOV ACADEMY, AND FORMER DUMA SPEAKER IVAN RYBKIN HAVE PRODUCED A REPORT ON THE ECONOMIC ASPECTS OF THE WAR IN CHECHNYA. THEIR CALCULATIONS SHOW THAT THE SECOND WAR IN CHECHNYA HAS COST RUSSIA $40 BILLION.
Question: The figures you give in your report are shocking.
Ruslan Khasbulatov: As an economist, I am fairly cautious in my assumptions and estimates. I don't think even the parliament knows how much money is spent on specific items of the defense budget. You may ask that question of Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin - and he'll tell you he doesn't know, and that will be the truth. The money goes to dozens of ministries and departments. They have taken three-and-a-half years to waste the equivalent of one annual federal budget. This is money taken from taxpayers. The notion of "a united and integral Russia" is an obsession with everyone. For some reason, no one understands that territorial integrity has nothing to do with this war, which several groups in Russia and Chechnya are using to line their own pockets.referendum has been the major event over the last several weeks.
Ruslan Khasbulatov: A referendum is the highest form of the democratic instruments used by society. Unfortunately, tyrannical and dictatorial regimes use this instrument most effectively of all, and they do so regularly. When a territory is under occupation, when life is anything but normal, referendums become an expression of cynicism. I'm not even talking about tampering with voting results, or allowing military personnel to vote. The whole endeavor has been a cruel experiment on a suffering people. It cannot have any legal or moral validity.
Question: But what about the amnesty? Isn't that a positive corollary of the referendum?
Ruslan Khasbulatov: Those who seek vengeance for their slain relatives do not want amnesties. Neither do those who are fighting for independence. Only the hesitant want an amnesty. Needless to say, soldiers and officers of the Russian Armed Forces will be amnestied. It is now a matter of great importance for them that speculations about an international war crimes tribunal for Chechnya are mentioned more and more frequently. That is why I'm fairly indifferent about the amnesty. By itself, it cannot improve the situation.
Question: There is an impression that the Kremlin is relying on Kadyrov alone.
Ruslan Khasbulatov: Yes, that's what it looks like. Akhmad Kadyrov will wield the administrative, political, and military resources... He isn't exactly popular with the people of Chechnya, but he will certainly get the most votes. Kadyrov is an ideal choice for the model of governance which the Kremlin has prepared for Chechnya. Putin's regime is deliberately turning Chechnya into a military-police enclave under a mini-Saddam Hussein. A dictator may be called by any title - a mullah, a president, anything. I don't think the Kremlin will succeed. All this will collapse some day.
Question: Do you think anyone "from the other side" might become Kadyrov's rival in the presidential race?
Ruslan Khasbulatov: It is possible - now that the referendum is over, and unity of the people has been officially proclaimed. Let Maskhadov, Maigov, or Zakayev participate. Attempts to capture those people are laughable.
Question: What about negotiations with Aslan Maskhadov? Is that possible?
Ruslan Khasbulatov: Maskhadov isn't very influential, but he does control some armed men. No matter what the federal government may be saying, there can't be fewer than two to three thousand guerrillas in Chechnya. I'm sure their ranks are swelling rapidly now.
And by the way, have you noticed that a new series of explosions has rocked Chechnya less than a week after the referendum? This was a message from the other side: "You want a referendum? Go ahead, and we won't interfere, in order to avoid civilian casualties." The guerrillas are now showing us the true nature of this referendum. The people of Chechnya viewed it as their last hope. Two months from now, seeing that nothing has changed, they will curse the referendum and turn their backs on the federal government permanently.
International autonomy is what Chechnya needs for stabilization. This is not something that depends on Maskhadov, Khasbulatov, or Putin. The people of Chechnya have been alienated from the federal government by Stalin's deportation, the war, and endless cleanup operations. Chechnya needs a special status guaranteed by the international community. This will happen, sooner or later, regardless of the stand the Kremlin chooses to take. Russian leaders have failed to solve the problem of Chechnya. We should ask for help from the international community. The Kremlin will be forced to do so.
Question: Will withdrawal of the troops ease the tension?
Ruslan Khasbulatov: Some units should remain in Chechnya, pending stabilization. We should not turn it into a repeat of 1996, when the troops departed in haste, leaving weapons and military hardware behind. When I came to Chechnya to look for my brother in 1996, armored personnel carriers and battle infantry vehicles pulled over by my house every half-hour. "Ruslan, you are here to find your brother," I was told. "I'll need a gang. Here, I can find you military hardware at half-price..." I could have formed an armed regiment then.
Question: There is always the hope that something will be done. Twenty-five billion rubles in compensation has been promised...
Ruslan Khasbulatov: What is the value of a modern city with 400,000 residents? Damage to Chechnya amounts to $100 billion at least. There will be no improvement. Half the compensation money will be misappropriated in Moscow, the other half in Chechnya. The people will end up with only the crumbs...