REPUBLIC STILL A DANGER ZONE.
Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 2 Issue: 1
On December 20, the chairman of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs, Vladimir Rushailo, reported to President Vladimir Putin on the situation in Chechnya, from which he had just returned after a two-day inspection visit. Rushailo noted that “over only the past three months [in Chechnya], twenty-seven representatives of the [pro-Moscow] local administration have been killed, and eighty wounded.” Putin ordered the minister to strengthen the protection of the pro-Moscow officials and gave a similar command to the Federal Security Service (Kommersant daily, Lenta.ru, December 21). The online daily Gazeta.ru commented acidly that Russia is now in precisely the same position as were German occupation forces on Soviet soil during the Second World War. Local inhabitants working for the occupying forces were then, and are now, the unrelenting target of assassination attempts by then-Soviet, now-Chechen, partisans (Gazeta.ru, December 20).
A traveling collegium of the Stavropol Krai Court has begun to examine the case of two Chechens, Ramzes Gaichaev and Rustam Khamidov, who are charged with “genocide against the Russian population of the Shelkovsky district of Chechnya.” The men are accused of having murdered ten ethnic Russians while leaving their fellow Chechens in peace (Kommersant daily, December 21; Segodnya, December 19). Although the crimes of which these men are accused are indeed heinous, it appears that ethnic Chechens who kill Russians may be charged with genocide, while Russians who kill Chechens (in far higher numbers) may, at least on some occasions, not even be charged with murder (Glasnost-Caucasus Daily News Service, December 19).
The chief of staff of the North Caucasus Military District, Lieutenant General Vladimir Bulgakov, has turned down an offer to head the Combined Group of Federal Forces in Chechnya. It appears that Bulgakov, who was made a Hero of Russia in March 2000, is not to be punished for this act of insubordination. The reason behind Bulgakov’s action was reportedly a belief that “the army and its generals are not prepared for actions under the conditions of a partisan war” (Grani.ru website, December 20; Lenta.ru, December 21).