Kommersant on March 26 quoted Akhmed Zakaev, the London-based prime minister of the separatist Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, as saying of Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov’s assertion that an announcement of an end to the counter-terrorist operation in Chechnya is imminent: “On paper, of course, you can do anything you want. But in fact nothing will change as long a political settlement is [not] found for the conflict between Chechnya and Russia.”
Aslambek Aslakhanov, a former Russian presidential adviser and former State Duma deputy who is now a Federation Council member, said there is every reason to announce an end to the counter-terrorist operation in Chechnya. Newsru.com on March 26 quoted Aslakhanov as saying he agreed with Kadyrov that there are no longer organized terrorist groups in Chechnya. “Nobody can guarantee that there will never be terrorist acts and other crimes,” he said. “But this can be fought against in the course of the normal daily work of the law-enforcement bodies.”
For his part, Alesei Malasehenko of the Carnegie Moscow Center suggested that the plans to end the counter-terrorist operation in Chechnya are connected to the economic crisis. “Unquestionably, the [economic] crisis has played an important role in changing the policy of the federal center in the North Caucasus,” Kommersant quoted him as saying. “Under the conditions of a crisis, the authorities are forced to choose on which it’s better to spend money—to give it to the Chechen president for rebuilding the republic or, as before, to spend both on reconstruction and for the upkeep of [federal] troops [there].”
Newsru.com reported on March 26 that human rights activists believe the counter-terrorist operation in Chechnya may be ended not because terrorism there has ceased, but because the violence that originated in Chechnya has now spilled over into neighboring republics.
“With a lowering of the level of armed resistance in the Chechen Republic, the violence has spilled over into neighboring regions,” said Oleg Orlov, head of the Memorial human rights center. “It makes no sense to carry out a counter-terrorist operation on the territory of the Chechen Republic. Its cancellation would be fully justified.” Orlov added that more security forces are being killed and wounded in Ingushetia and Dagestan now than in Chechnya, but added that “unfortunately, one cannot speak about a victory over terrorism” in Chechnya where, he said, the human rights situation continues to alarm human rights activists.
Kommersant on March 26 quoted the chairman of the State Duma’s Security Committee, Vladimir Vasilyev, as saying that Chechnya can set an example for other regions on how to fight terrorism. “The experience and positive practice used here in the fight against terrorism is of great interest, especially against the backdrop of the unstable atmosphere that continues to remain tense in certain regions of the North Caucasus,” he said.