Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 2 Issue: 13

On March 22, four leading Russian dailies–Izvestia, Komsomol’skaya pravda, Moskovsky Komsomolets and Trud–published the transcript of a lengthy interview with President Putin conducted by the chief editors of those newspapers. During the course of the interview, the Russian president suggested that the conflict in Chechnya could continue for a long time, perhaps for a decade or more. “If we recall the period of the Second World War,” Putin said, “and of the ‘forest brethren’ [anti-Soviet partisans], until what year were they running about in the forests?” Until 1954-1956, the editors responded. “And that,” Putin emphasized, “was under the conditions of a totalitarian regime and of an absolute closure of the borders…. Today, of course, the situation is much more complicated.” Putin appeared to want to signal the editors and the readers of their publications that, like Josef Stalin before him, he has the tenacity and the will to, if necessary, continue the war for years to come (Izvestia, March 22).