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Sunday, 26 December, 1999, 23:51 GMT
Opinion: A Chechen view of Russia's war
A pall of smoke gathers over Grozny as Russia launches an all-out attack
A pall of smoke gathers over Grozny as Russia attacks
By Chechnya's special representative in Europe, Dr Aslambek Kadiev

There are two main reasons for the two wars which Russia has launched against Chechnya.

The first is economic: Russia wants to control the Caucasus oilfields and pipeline routes.

Battle for the Caucasus
The second is connected with the political situation in Russia, and particularly inside the Kremlin.

The political purpose of the first Chechen war was to increase Boris Yeltsin's popularity and get him re-elected president in 1996.

The main aim of this second war is to ensure that Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, a former spy and President Yeltsin's anointed heir, becomes president at the next elections.

Chechen refugees in Ingushetia watch Russian guns en route for Chechnya
Chechen refugees in Ingushetia watch Russian guns en route for Chechnya
The apartment bombings in Russian cities early this year were used by Russia to justify its invasion.

Moscow blamed Chechens for these terrorist attacks.

The Chechen Government offered to co-operate in the arrest and extradition of suspects if the Russian authorities could provide evidence to support their claims.

But the Chechens received no response, no co-operation and no evidence.

The bombings are therefore comparable to the burning of the Reichstag in Nazi times, or Stalin's assassination of his rival, Kirov - which he then used as a pretext for repression and the usurpation of power.

It is still unclear who carried out the bomb attacks in Russian cities, but all the world knows who bombs Chechen civilians in cities, towns and villages. Even hospitals, schools and public markets are under attack.

International mechanisms

The unprecedented ultimatum to citizens to get out of Grozny or to be destroyed as if they were bandits, amounts to terrorism conducted by the state.

The international community can stop this war. There are international mechanisms and political institutions which proved themselves effective in resolving crises in East Timor, Bosnia and Kosovo.

Chechnya's huge beech forests are a refuge for rebel fighters
Chechnya's huge beech forests are a refuge for rebel fighters
From these institutions and the international community, Russia must get a clear message: it cannot continue the war in Chechnya because this is a war against civilians and the Chechen people.

Russia is contravening the Geneva Convention by committing a mass violation of human rights.

It is a war that is dangerous not only for Chechnya, but also for Russia itself, as it could affect the way the country develops. Will Russia remain a democratic state or will it become another nationalist or fascist state?

Now there is a chance to establish peace in Chechnya and to save Russia as a civilised country. Later on it will be much more difficult.

Force renounced

After the humiliating defeat of the Russian army in Chechnya in 1996, a ceasefire was signed, which paved the way for a peace agreement signed on 12 May 1997 by Boris Yeltsin and the Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov.

Both sides agreed to renounce the use of force or the threat of force in resolving disputes, and to conduct relations within the framework of international law.

After that, the Chechen president and government have tried constantly to establish a dialogue with the Russian president and government on many issues, including the subject of fighting terrorism. The Russians refused to respond.

The Chechen Government is willing to negotiate a solution to the conflict.

But if Russia will not negotiate, Chechnya will continue to fight until the last Russian soldier leaves Chechnya.
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26 Dec 99 | Europe
Russians advance into Grozny
24 Dec 99 | Europe
In pictures: Chechen conflict
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