April 26, 2008


Russia's region of 'lawlessness': Since the wars in Chechnya in the mid and late 1990's, Russia's North Caucasus has remained largely off-limits to foreign journalists. But James Rodgers, who covered the separatists' conflict with Kremlin troops has just returned from a rare trip. (James Rodgers, 4/26/08, BBC)

I also visited Ingushetia, the region to the west of Chechnya. This used to be a safe place. No longer. Militants are killing local officials and ethnic Russians.

The groups who are trying to reignite conflict in the Caucasus have plenty to work with. Stories that the Russians and their Chechen allies do not trust each other are easy to believe.

There was a hitch in our travel arrangements. Russians and Chechens were quick to blame each other.

"The locals are idiots," fumed one Muscovite as the spring sun became comfortably warm and the delay continued. He did not know that the Chechen next to him had just said the same to me about Russians.

I did not feel that the north Caucasus was about to explode again. People are exhausted and the rebels are now thought to number only a few hundred.

But the missing and the dead have relatives and Chechnya has a long tradition of blood feuds.

There are countless unemployed young men.

First we deny them the self-determination we insist on for ourselves and then we wonder how their populations become radicalized. We owe George III an apology.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 26, 2008 8:32 AM
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