Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 1 Issue: 1

There are indications that the Russian military may be planning to pull out of Chechnya (that is, presumably, out of that part of the Chechen Republic which lies south of the Terek River) over the course of the next three months. General Viktor Kazantsev, the newly appointed Plenipotentiary Representative of the President in the Southern Federal District (one of seven such districts in Russia), has affirmed that the military must gradually transfer power to local structures and begin a “gradual, smooth exit” of the troops in Chechnya by the end of this year. A police force “consisting of local inhabitants,” Kazantsev stated, should also be created.

At this point, this still rather murky plan would seem to involve the military’s handing over control to the Russian Interior Ministry and to the FSB, but no-one realistically believes that these ministries could maintain an effective Russian political presence within the rebellious republic. At a later date, responsibility for policing Chechnya would apparently be passed to pro-Moscow Chechens, such as Mufti Akhmad Kadyrov, the Putin-appointed chief of administration for the Chechen Republic. Under such circumstances, there would be flatly no possibility that such Russian “puppets” would be able to prevent the separatists from reassuming control over all of Chechnya south of the Terek River. “Chechenization” would predictably suffer the same fate as “Vietnamization” before it.

In a related development, it has been announced that an OSCE Assistance Group will shortly be sent to Chechnya. It was, of course, such an OSCE Group which helped broker the Russo-Chechen peace settlement of August 1996.