Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 3 Issue: 6

On February 8, the Russian presidential spokesman for issues relating to Chechnya, Sergei Yastrzhembsky, observed during a Moscow press conference that the counterterrorist operation in Chechnya would have been completed a long time ago had not a part of the Chechen populace been aiding the rebels. A certain segment of the Chechen populace, Yastrzhembsky maintained, as before “supports, conceals and provides medical help to the participants in the illegal armed formations and also participates in direct military actions against the federal forces.” In the opinion of the Russian presidential aide, such actions by the Chechens are explained by “the factor of vendetta, by separatist views on the future [of the republic], and by other factors” (Lenta.ru, February 8). In its commentary on Yastrzhembsky’s statement, the website Grani.ru noted: “Most likely, the [Russian] military in Chechnya will interpret these words by Yastrzhembsky as an appeal to conduct mopping-up operations even more thoroughly and harshly” (Grani.ru, February 8).