Russian first deputy prime minister Boris Nemtsov warned yesterday that Chechnya will become a center of "banditry and narco-business" if it is allowed to leave the Russian Federation. Should this occur, Nemtsov believes that Russia will have "not the slightest chance of controlling the situation." Russia will find itself facing provocations from the Chechens and will have to put up barbed wire, border outposts, and customs posts. "We have to prepare for this," Nemtsov said.
Nemtsov reaffirmed Russia’s intention to build an oil pipeline bypassing Chechnya. "We are a great country and we cannot permit ourselves to be dependent on anyone," he said. At the same time, Russia plans to restore the pipeline passing through the Chechen Republic. "If [the Chechens] behave themselves, "we will transport oil through this pipeline; if they behave badly, then you understand what will happen," Nemtsov said.
The fact that Nemtsov is advocating the economic isolation of the mutinous republic is hardly a sensation. It was Nemtsov who first proposed building an oil pipeline and electrical power lines bypassing Chechnya. What is interesting is that, for the first time, Nemtsov has openly advocated erecting a cordon sanitaire around Chechnya. Until now, as the magazine Itogi has noted, Nemtsov had avoided threatening Grozny directly and explained the need to build a bypass section of the pipeline by saying that the Chechen sector of the pipeline did not have enough capacity to pump both "early" and "late" Caspian oil. (Itogi, September 23) Clearly, the breaking off of the present round of Russian-Chechen talks has permitted Nemtsov to dispense with diplomatic niceties and openly express his point of view on how to settle the Chechen crisis.
Nikitin Again Charged with Treason.