Butchery in Chechnya

The world has left the Chechen to be ground into bloody pulp by Russia’s killing machine — a crime largely financed by U.S. and western dollars

A month ago, this column predicted that Russian hard-liners were on the verge of seizing total power in a “stealthy” coup. Twenty–six days later, President Boris Yeltsin stunned the world by resigning and handing over power to a junta of KGB “Chekists” and senior generals led by former spy and now acting president, Vladimir Putin.

Yeltsin agreed to resign in return for immunity for himself and his family from prosecution for massive corruption. The era of Weimar Russia was ended, and the West’s $100 billion–plus investment in Yeltsin’s “democratic Russia” a total loss. The Clinton administration and its media backers tried to cover up the magnitude of this catastrophe by echoing Russian propaganda claims that Putin and his cronies were “clean”, “youthful reformers,” “covert democrats” and crusaders against terrorism.

Far from reform, what we are seeing in Moscow is the seizure of political and, increasingly, economic power by a younger generation of KGB officers, like Putin, from the old First Chief Directorate (Foreign Intelligence). Forget the beetle–browed KGB thugs of the 1950s. These ’80s– and ’90s–vintage agents are hard–edged, sophisticated, worldly professionals.
Putin and his junta gained power by whipping up traditional Russian racial and religious hatred for Muslim Chechen, then launching a merciless campaign to exterminate the Caucasian rebels. Moscow, in the usual style of international malefactors, used the Christmas/New Year holidays to mask its attempted storming of the Chechen capital, Grozny, and laying waste to the rest of the tiny republic of 1.5 million people.

The valiant Chechen mujahedin, however, refused to surrender. Some 1,500 Chechen fighters dug into the ruins of Grozny have managed to defend the city against ferocious assaults of some 60,000–80,000 Russian troops for the past month.

Russian generals claimed they would conquer Grozny two weeks ago. Russian forces are mercilessly pounding the city to rubble with massed batteries of heavy artillery and rocket launchers, as well as carpet–bombing and strikes by ground–attack aircraft and helicopter gunships. Forty thousand Chechen civilians are trapped in the city, cowering in shelters with little food or water.

Russia is violating all norms of warfare and numerous international conventions by making extensive use of fuel air explosives delivered by aircraft and rockets. These weapons release a fine mist of explosive fuel over a target, then detonate. The resulting blasts are of enormous destructive power second only to tactical nuclear weapons. All of the oxygen under the blast zone’s footprint — the size of a football-field — is burned up, sucking the air out of the lungs of victims. Devastating overpressure ruptures internal organs and kills anyone sheltering in basements or bunkers.

Grozny and most other Chechen towns have been blasted to ruins by fuel air and conventional explosives. The Russians have showered tens of thousands of anti–personnel mines in Chechnya’s mountainous south in an effort to seal the border with Georgia. Foreign journalists are being kept out of the war zone lest they report details of Russia’s latest slaughter of the rebellious Chechen. Almost all news on the conflict comes from Moscow’s propaganda organs, which keep repeating the mantra that Chechen are “Islamic terrorists” — where have we heard this before? — who must be “cleansed.”

Ironically, while the U.S. wrung its hands over the possible threat of terrorism during millennium celebrations, Russia was committing one of the worst acts of international terrorism of our era in Chechnya.

Washington issued a few tut-tuts over Russia’s brutal actions, but continued to back Moscow with diplomatic support and billions of cash.
As Russians poured shells on the Chechen for daring to seek independence from 300 year’s of brutal colonial rule by Moscow, President Bill Clinton actually described Russia’s siege of Grozny a “liberation.” The same Clinton hailed Yeltsin as “a Russian Abraham Lincoln” after his forces massacred 100,000 Chechen in 1994–96.

Why this nauseating sycophancy? Because Clinton agreed to give Moscow a free hand in Chechnya in exchange for Moscow allowing the U.S. to keep bashing away at Iraq. Clinton’s key financial backers want Iraq destroyed.

Meanwhile, bands of fierce Chechen fighters continue one of our era’s most heroic struggles. The courage of these mountain men is almost beyond comprehension. They are lightly armed, surrounded, low on munitions and supplies, hopelessly outnumbered 100-1, under constant bombardment … and forgotten.

Clinton has hailed the Putin regime as “new, democratic Russian leaders.” In fact, the Chekists and generals now running the Kremlin look very much like the old, brutal Soviet Russia, only this time less ideological and more efficiently ruthless.

(Reproduced from The Ottawa Sun, January 10, 2000. We are grateful to Asif and Ahmed Shaikh for drawing our attention to the above article. E-mail: as@alumni.indiana.edu)

Archived from Communalism Combat, January 2000. Year 7  No, 55, International



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