Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 4 Issue: 3

Lord Judd’s recent report to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe included some reflections on the anti-Moscow forces in Chechnya: “I detect at least three elements amongst the fighters in the Chechen Republic…. There are the extremists, largely indistinguishable in their motivation, if not essentially part of, al Qaida. There are the criminals and opportunists with a vested interest in the war because of what they can materially gain from it. There are the ‘political’ players who, however misguided or unjustified in having done so… have taken to arms in desperation to seek a political and cultural identity for the Chechen people whom they perceive as unbearably humiliated and oppressed. The differences between these elements are not always clear cut. At times they overlap. The ‘political’ element must constantly feel the extremist element breathing down its neck and setting an uncompromising pace. A further complication in the situation is that some of the factional fighting may well have more to do with internal Chechen conflicts than with conflicts between the Chechen people and the rest of the Russian Federation. Corruption is rampant and all pervasive. It is not limited to any one side in the conflict.”