Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 3 Issue: 34

The November 5 issue of the German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung carried an article by German specialist Aleksandr Rahr (who is of Russian descent) which was translated into Russian and posted on the website Inosmi.ru on the same day. The author commented inter alia: “Putin has a year and a half to end the war in Chechnya: either with the aid of force or by means of negotiations. If he does not succeed in this, his reelection in 2004 will be under threat…The spiral of violence [in Chechnya] is being unleashed more and more swiftly. A Russian nuclear power station could be a next target for a team of [Chechen] terrorists. In such a case, Putin has threatened to launch an answering blow with the use of weapons of mass destruction. Today, the president finds himself in the ranks of Russian hawks who, after the drama with the hostages, are demanding retribution. But Putin is well known for his unusual decisions and maneuvers…. A model of a politician for Putin could be the former head of the French state, Charles de Gaulle, who was forced to end the war in Algeria. At that time, the French army was also committing atrocities in relation to the civilian populace…. A year ago, in a conversation with American journalists, Putin hinted at the possibility of offering Chechnya broad autonomy, if the Chechen land would not represent a source of terrorist acts or robber-like attacks against Russian territory. Could that statement be considered a final hope for a resolution of this conflict?… Perhaps the international community will help Russia–for example, Germany and the European Union as “strategic partners”–and will propose to an exhausted Russia a Caucasus stability pact for the region lying between the Caspian and Black seas?… A model for that could be the successfully realized stability pact for the Balkans.”