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B&B Angst
Written by Said Sadain, Jr.
December 1999

Are The Times Really A-Changin’ ?

There Is No Plugging The Leak, No Taming The Monsters...

Just over the last decade, to name a few of the major ones, there was Kuwait and Iraq, then Bosnia, then Rwanda, then Angola, then Kosovo, then Ethiopia, then Sierra Leone, then East Timor and now Chechnya. The rampage and the rage continues, stopping momentarily in one location and erupting in another location, like volcanoes and earthquakes rumbling round the earth, sometimes repeating itself in the same place, but always killing, maiming, brutalizing and causing miseries untold. Some have been loose for centuries already, some just starting to wake up, some just waiting to blow hot again. God knows when and where the next monster will rear its vicious head, even before some of these are put back to their reins in ancient caves.

The entire population of Chechnya, today, has been branded a terrorist and is getting a beating of bombs and mortars from Russian forces who could only kill fleeing women and old people and babies barely out of their cribs, not one or two, but in hundreds by the day. The Chechen resistance fighters are waiting it out in the hills and mountains of Chechnya, knowing that they are of no match to the modern techniques of marauding bombers from the air, but that when the fighting buckles down to eyeballing each other, then they are ready for the long haul.

This war, that Russia claimed was provoked by the bombing of civilian buildings in the heart of Russian cities allegedly by terrorists believed to have originated from Chechnya, seems everything but an honorable war.

In the first place, Chechnya does not have any need to provoke Russia and gains nothing from such a provocation. Just before this war, it already was enjoying an existence that was more than autonomous since it successfully resisted a Russian onslaught in 1996. And indeed Chechnya denies that it has anything to do with the Russian city bombings. To date, Russia still does not have any evidence pointing to anything Chechen about these bombings. The sheer size of the blasts and the necessary logistics to prepare such devastation, not just one but at least five, could not have easily been done by rag-tag terrorists from a distant place without alerting Russian military authorities about it. And even if Chechens were indeed trying to start a war with Russia, why target the civilian populace, especially the depressed areas which more likely would be housing the likes of them, poor immigrants and the underprivileged, and not some strategic military installations? On the contrary, prior to these blasts, the Russian media was actually a-buzzed with rumors and speculations about some drastic actions that the Yeltsin government was planning in order to take back the political initiative and strengthen its sagging popularity.

Read excerpts of a dispatch by a German journalist reporting from Russia in early December 1999, and clear-headed enough to call a genocide a genocide:

by Florian Hassel (GNNS)

MOSCOW - Igor Malashenko, chairman of the broadcaster MediaMost, ... last week, ... appeared on his company's radio station Ekho Moskvi to assert: "Just as five years ago, the war in Chechnya is not being conducted as a military exercise but as a political one... Its true aim has little to do with priorities in Chechnya itself. The central goal of the campaign is power in Russia, leading all the way to the Kremlin."

In Russia, Malashenko is not just a company director. He organized Boris Yeltsin's 1996 campaign so successfully ... (that) Yeltsin offered him the job of boss of the Kremlin administration. Although   Malashenko declined, he has ... retained his position as one of the most influential members of Russia's political elite.

Normally, remarks such as Malashenko's would be immediately snapped up and run by other media outlets, but not this time...all the Moscow papers were silent, as was the leading Russian press agency, Interfax....(preferring) instead to relay Yeltsin's declaration on the "successful conclusion" to the (Chechnya) war's second phase and heap praise on the "heroic Russian Army" in their "battle against international terrorism".

"Light and warmth" will soon burn in Chechen houses, said Czar Boris..."the terrorists have left a completely burned land behind them" and destroyed the tiny republic's infrastructure. Here, Yeltsin and his army chiefs employ an age-old tactic: tell a lie often enough and it will be believed.

Unfortunately, the West has shown itself incredibly receptive to Russia's one-sided reporting of this horrendous war of destruction... calling it an "internal matter for Russia"...The stark fact of the matter is that Russia is committing genocide in Chechnya.

Under international law, the definition of genocide is quite clear: it is ... committed whenever a national, ethnic or religious group is destroyed partially or completely, dispossessed or forced to flee, when its members are deliberately killed or subjected to severe physical or mental injuries...

All these criteria tally with Chechnya... The Chechen genocide is no more Russia's "internal affair" than the Serb genocides in Bosnia and Kosovo were Belgrade's. ...

Meanwhile, Yeltsin's former human rights commissioner, Sergei Kovalyov - one of Russia's few remaining liberals, he resigned because of Russian behavior in the first Chechen war - has called for the imposition of a range of sanctions against Russia. His proposals include its suspension from the Council of Europe and the recalling of Western (government) ambassadors from Moscow....

In the long run, one must discern that this war had only served to strengthen the political fortunes of President Yeltsin and his most recent protege, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who are now enjoying, in so short a time, a high degree of approval mainly because of the Chechnya battering. Before this campaign, the Russian parliament and population had exhibited such disillusionment with the political leadership that it was all but sure Yeltsin and his government (and vodka bottle) might as well have been thrown down the Volga River to drown.

If this is then the rationale behind the Chechnya carnage, then should not the world community powers, if they now indeed play by the fair values of human rights and everything that is righteous and godly about a human life, try to stop this with much more determination than what they were willing to put into the recent efforts for Kosovo and East Timor? Russia’s claim that Chechnya is part of Russia, and that therefore, the slaughter is an internal matter, is indeed strange. A self-respecting country, a world power at that and, presumably, a civilized one (?), does not go around blasting and leveling its own cities and towns, in their entirety along with their inhabitants. Unless Russia regards Chechnya as a foreign entity, which the Chechens have therefore been right in claiming from the start. Then where is the issue of internal matters?

If the international community is not willing to stop Russia in this outrage, is it because the perpetrator of the carnage is a permanent UN Security Council member? And if so, are we then going to believe that the world has indeed changed much from the world of colonialists in centuries past when the globe was divided into master and vassal? oppressor and oppressed? hunter and prey?

Did times indeed change at all?
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