Are Chechens racist



Storm over Chechnya: Russia's War in the Caucasus / Henrik Bischof. - [Electronic ed.]. - Bonn, 1995. - 21 pp. = 68 Kb, text. - (Study on foreign policy; 65). - ISBN 3-86077-350-X
Electronic ed .: Bonn: FES-Library, 1998

© Friedrich Ebert Foundation












The conflict between Moscow center and Chechnya is both legal and primarily one political or security policy Problem. Conflicts of this kind - especially in the area of ​​the former Soviet Union - cannot be resolved legally, but only politically. The attempt by President Yeltsin and his allies in the government and the army to "solve" the conflict in Chechnya by force is doomed to failure. For even "successful" use of force and repression harbor the danger that what is suppressed is not cleared potential for conflict breaks out again. Despite this, Moscow headquarters opted for the intervention of the Russian army in Chechnya. Solzhenitsyn's advice went unnoticed: Moscow should keep its hands off Central Asia and the Caucasus in the interests of building a strong core Russia.

A discussion broke out in the West about the question of whether the intervention was a classic imperial policy or whether it was aimed at protecting the Moscow center from growing pressure from the periphery. Does Moscow want to keep Chechnya in the Russian Federation for its own sake, or does it fear that Chechnya will leave the country with instability and insecurity for the Russian south? Whatever the answer to these questions, the military intervention will not only have lasting effects on Russian domestic politics, the struggle for power. Moscow's foreign policy also appears in a different light as a result of a long chain of activities. At the time this analysis was completed (at the end of December 1994) it was not foreseeable whether Chechnya will be incorporated into the Russian Federation - be it by military force or negotiated diplomacy - or whether a protracted Caucasus war is imminent. The only thing that seems certain is that a Russian federation cannot be built on the model of the Tsarist Empire or the Soviet state.



The Chechens who call themselves Nochcho or Nachtschi are a ouchnice people in the North Caucasus, which originally worshiped gods of nature (herd cult) and is still organized in gender associations / tribes today, waging clan wars (with blood vengeance) among one another. Chechen is a Caucasian language that has also been a literary language since the 19th century (with the Cyrillic alphabet since 1938). Around 1 million Chechens (over 80%) live on today's territory of Chechnya. Chechen minorities are mainly found in Dagestan as well as (a numerically strong diaspora) in Moscow and in the Middle East (Iraq, Syria, Jordan). In ancient times and in the Middle Ages (8th century) the Chechens living under the rule of Georgian kings were Christianized. It was not Islamized until the 16th century. Since then, most Chechen tribes have been Sunni Muslims. The members of the Kist Chechen tribe living in Georgia have remained Christians.

The struggle between David and Goliath in the Caucasus lasted a total of 400 years - well into the 19th century. First Ivan the Terrible, and then Peter I, failed in the attempt to pacify the Caucasus region, which is geopolitically important for Russia, due to the resistance of the Chechens (together with dozens of small Caucasus ethnic groups), who apparently seem unwilling to rule to this day to suffer. Only after Russia had conquered Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan between 1801-1828 did Moscow succeed in subjugating the Chechens in the Caucasus War (1817-1864). The leader of the resistance was Shamil, who was born in an Avar village in Dagestan, leader of a political-religious movement (muridism) of the mountain peoples in the north-east Caucasus that emerged from Islamic mysticism (Sufism) and which had its own state (Imamat ) created. In this war, Shamil fought successfully for 25 years with 20,000 warriors against a 280,000-strong Russian army until he was captured in 1859 and expelled to Mecca. Around 40,000 Chechens then fled to Turkey.

The centuries-old tradition of Chechen resistance against Moscow, which demanded unimaginable human sacrifices from its own ranks, continued in the Soviet state, especially in the 1920s and 1930s. In 1921 a part of the Chechens was added to the Gorskaya (mountain) ASSR. In 1922, Chechnya was granted the status of an autonomous region. In 1934 the Checheno-Ingush Autonomous Region was created by amalgamation, which in 1936 was transformed into a Checheno-Ingush Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (ASSR) within the framework of the RSFSR (Russian Federation). In 1944, on Stalin's orders, the ASSR was dissolved and the deportation of the Chechens, Ingush and other Caucasus peoples to Central Asia (Siberia, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan) - under the pretext of collective punishment for alleged collaboration with Hitler's Germany. In reality, not a single German soldier has entered Chechnya. Today there is hardly a Chechen family that has not been a victim of displacement. It was not until 1957 that the Chechens were rehabilitated, and the survivors from Central Asia were allowed to return to their restored but territorially reduced Chechen-Ingush ASSR. In 1991, at the time of the fall of the USSR, this ASSR had around 1.3 million inhabitants, including 57.8% Chechens, 23.1% Russians, 12.9% Ingush, 1.2% Armenians, etc. The majority of Chechens, those who rebel against Moscow today were born in the deportation.



During the period of "Perestroika" and "Glasnost" under Gorbachev (1985-1991), which gave the peoples of the Soviet Union the possibility of national and state independence, the Chechens were also able to celebrate their national rebirth. On November 27, 1990, the Chechen-Ingush ASSR declared its state sovereignty and their exit from the USSR. The initiator of this step was the one that emerged from the national movement People's Congress of Chechens under the leadership of the retired major general of the strategic air forces of the USSR, Johar Dudajew (born 1944), the Yeltsin with his statement in the power struggle against Gorbachev against Tatarstan - "Take as much sovereignty as you want" (Neue Zeit, Moscow, no. 44 The aspirations for sovereignty were supported by the Vainach Democratic Party (collective term for Chechens and Ingush), founded in August 1990 and chaired by the poet Silimkhan Inderbajew, the movement of the Greens, the popular front for perestroika and the Islamic Way Party, led by Beslan Gantamirov. The Dudayev People's Congress became the leading political force in Chechnya because it could rely on the diaspora, which among the Chechens still organized in clans (Tjebs) had the Moscow diaspora A strong nat developed relatively quickly under the conditions of the private and shadow economy ional bourgeoisie developed with close ties to the homeland. This considerably weakened the position of power of the Chechen party and administrative bureaucracy, a closed and corrupted system of national nomenclatura. Chechnya was one of the poorest regions in the USSR. Only Moscow benefited from the oil processing industry. The Chechen and Ingush people lived in deep poverty. Even then, the number of unemployed reached 200,000. There was no living space for them in their own autonomous republic.

During the Moscow attempted coup In August 1991, the Chechen People's Congress, led by Dudayev, stood on Boris Yeltsin's side. The Chechen party and administrative bureaucracy (nomenklatura) supported the putschists or behaved neutrally. It could only be switched off after tough arguments. On September 15, 1991, the Supreme Soviet of the Autonomous Republic dissolved. Before that, the chairman of the Supreme Soviet, Doku Savgayev (since 1989 1st Secretary of the Chechen-Ingush Regional Committee of the CPSU), had resigned. A provisional Supreme Soviet of 13 was created at Moscow's instigation, but it could only hope for armed support from two districts of Chechnya. At the beginning of October 1991, the Chechen People's Congress (Dudayev) de facto took over power after its 62,000-strong National Guard, which emerged from the self-defense groups of the Green Movement, moved the most important buildings in the Chechen capital Grozny (radio and television, KGB, ministries) had occupied. The People's Congress elected a provisional council headed by Hussein Akhmadov and a provisional legislative committee led by Letschi Magomadov.

That contributed to the deterioration of relations between Moscow and the Chechens ultimatum Boris Yeltsins on October 20, 1991. Yeltsin demanded that the occupied buildings be vacated and that the weapons of the National Guard be surrendered within three days. Dudayev responded with a general mobilization.

On October 27, 1991 were in Chechnya Presidential election performed, which Johar Dudayev won. According to official figures, 490,000 of the 640,000 eligible voters took part in the elections. 420,000 of them voted for Dudaev. According to unofficial information, only half of those eligible to vote voted. Moscow declared the elections illegal.

In November 1991, Yeltsin imposed the on Chechnya state of emergencywhich was rejected by the Russian parliament. This insisted on resolving the conflict by political means. Yeltsin and his "democratic" government insisted on reinstating the old communist leadership and parliament in Chechnya. The 2,000 soldiers sent to Grozny by the Soviet and Russian interior ministries, respectively, had to make a shameful retreat after their task of "restoring the Okay ", had failed. The representative of the Russian President and head of the special administration in Chechnya, Akhmed Arsanov, resigned.

Boris Yeltsin suffered the first serious personal defeat in Chechnya with his policy of confrontation - although Vice-President Ruzkoj and the Chechen and then President of the Russian Parliament, Ruslan Khasbulatov, vehemently defended the decree on the state of emergency. For his part, Dudayev declared the state of emergency invalid and instead declared a state of war. Thousands of Chechens came to Grozny to defend "freedom against the Russians." In retrospect, events can also be interpreted in such a way that the Russian parliament saved Yeltsin's reputation in the world as a passionate advocate of democracy by approving State of emergency denied.

Parallel to these events, a concentrated one began in Moscow at the end of 1991 Meservice campaign against the Chechens ("blacks", "gangsters", "criminals", "criminals"), which had an impact on the urban population and continues to this day. Not the Russian, but a dangerous Chechen mafia threatened the citizens and public order.

At the same time, Moscow tried to destabilize power in Chechnya by activating the Russian population as well as the Terek Cossacks in Chechnya. Thousands of Russians, Jews and Armenians fled to the south of Russia (Krasnodar, Stavropol). Mutual too Territorial claims began to play a role. The Terek Cossacks demanded the annexation of the Chechen districts of Naursky and Shelkovsky, which they inhabited, to the Russian region of Stavropol. The Akinzen Chechen tribe reclaimed an Avar district of Dagestan from which the Akinzen had been forcibly evicted in 1944. At the same time, the Ingush claimed their original settlement areas, which had been added to North Ossetia in 1944.

Despite these local conflicts among the Caucasus peoples, they seemed to agree on one point, namely to support the resistance of the Chechens. President Dudayev succeeded in establishing close contacts not only with the Kist Chechen tribe living in Georgia, but also with the then Georgian President Gamsahurdia, the Abkhazians of Georgia, the Muslim leaders of Azerbaijan, the Congress of the Avar People and the Muslims of Dagestan to knot. Also the one founded in 1989 Confederation of Mountainpeoples of the Caucasus, which sees itself as a gathering movement of the political opposition to the old nomenclature firmly established in the autonomous republics of the Caucasus region, said Dudayev support. However, President Yeltsin declared the confederation unconstitutional and continued to rely on the former communist party and administrative bureaucracy in the Caucasus.

The year 1992 began with the administrative Separation of the Ingush of Chechnya. The Ingush (originally also a Chechen tribe called Galgai) have been calling for the restoration of their own Autonomous Republic within the Russian Federation as it existed in 1934 since 1989/90. Only a part of the Ingush strove for a unified "Republic of the Vainachians" together with the Chechens. The Ingushes' desire to separate from the Chechens was accommodated by Moscow, especially since the territory of the breakaway Chechnya was thereby reduced After signing the Federation Treaty in March 1992, President Yeltsin declared the new Ingush Republic a member of the Russian Federation by decree, and the Russian parliament also passed a law in June 1992. However, the Ingush were deceived because they did not have their republic within its old borders from 1934, although this would have been legally possible on the basis of the law of the Russian Federation of April 26, 1991 on the rehabilitation of oppressed peoples. The (Ingush) areas separated after 1944 remained under the administration of North Ossetia Ingush and Ossetians, the - despite the special administration of Moscow - continues to this day. Moscow turned down an offer by the Confederation of Mountain Peoples of the Caucasus to mediate in the conflict and to establish a buffer zone with its own peacekeeping forces. Apparently Moscow was not interested in stability without the presence of Russian troops in the region.

The Chechens returned to the old 1934 border with the Ingush Republic in January 1992. They adopted their own on March 12, 1992 Constitution, which declared the Chechen Republic an independent state. President Dudayev also took over the post of prime minister. His first visit abroad took him to Saudi Arabia in August 1992.

As soon as the new Chechen constitution came into force on March 12, 1992, Moscow continued its attempts to destabilize the Chechen Republic. On March 31, the day the Federation Treaty was signed in Moscow, which Chechnya did not join, the old communist Chechen nomenklatura, whose stronghold was in the Chechen district of Nadterechniy, undertook an action in Grozny coup attemptwhich, however, failed miserably. After that, the units of the CIS armed forces still stationed on Chechen territory left the republic. In Moscow, President Yeltsin dismissed his compromise adviser on nationality policy, Galina Starovoytova. Her successor, Sergei Shachrai, took a tougher course towards Chechnya.

In the early summer of 1992 Russia imposed one Economic blockade against Chechnya. The oil-processing companies in Grozny had to stop production because no more crude oil was being delivered from Krasnodar in southern Russia. Most of the public transport buses could no longer run because there were no spare parts from Russia. Russian planes stopped air traffic to Grozny. Only Armenia, Moldova, Lithuania and the Ukraine flew to Grozny. Railway goods, e.g. for Lithuania or Azerbaijan, were no longer forwarded to the Russian border. All access roads to Chechnya were strictly controlled by special units of the Russian militia. From May 1992 Russian banks blocked all accounts in Chechnya. While Chechnya continued to carry out all deliveries to Russia under economic agreements, Russia's debts totaled around 12 billion rubles. Without cash, the Russian population of Chechnya in particular suffered from the economic boycott. A Give in the Chechens indicated themselves around the turn of 1992/93.Chechnya expressed its readiness to join the Federation Treaty as well as the CIS with the special arrangement that the Chechens leave the areas of foreign and foreign economic policy as well as common external defense to Moscow. Why Moscow did not agree to this compromise solution and why Sergei Shachrai (chairman of the State Committee for Nationality Policy) insisted on a position of strength remained unclear.



The economic and financial blockade imposed by Moscow already led to a considerable deterioration in the already poor living conditions of the Chechen population at the beginning of 1993, which led to dissatisfaction and development oppositional forces against President Dudayev. The opposition included, on the one hand, the old local nomenklatura of the party and administrative bureaucracy and the members of the Chechen-Ingush ASSR elected in 1990 for the Congress of People's Deputies in Moscow (including the then Speaker of Parliament Ruslan Khasbulatov) and, on the other hand, parts of the national movement and supporters of Chechnya independence, the had separated from Dudayev, including Hussein Akhmadov (President of Parliament until 1993), Yusuf Soslambekow (President of Parliament from 1993 and member of the Parliament of the Confederation of Mountain Peoples of the Caucasus), Letscha Umayew (Chairman of the Daimok Movement), Sabrail Gakayev (Chairman of the Democratic Movement Forces), Jaragi Mamodajew (1st Deputy Prime Minister until 1993) and the commanders of the armed forces Salman Khazemikov and Chamzat Khankarov. President Dudayev relied on the People's Congress of Chechens, which he led, and the Vainak Democratic Party of Silimkhan Inderbayev.

Since the Chechen tribes are socially organized in large families or clans and clans, the power crisis also reflected that Power struggle between individual clans who tried to enforce their clan interests under the impression of the severe economic crisis. These oppositional forces, interwoven with clan interests, accused Dudayev above all of striving for sole rule and pursuing the Islamization of the country.

The domestic political power crisis, in which President Dudayev was ultimately able to assert himself as the strong man, remained the dominant event of 1993. In the struggle for influence and power - as in Moscow at the same time - President and houses of Parliament, which was largely dominated by the old nomenclature and the national opposition. The latter two allied (Council of National Consensus) when President Dudayev announced a referendum on February 19, 1993 on a constitutional revision in the direction of presidential rule. Parliament then decided to call a referendum on March 27 on the question of the form of government. After this mutual paralysis in the struggle for power and influence, President Dudayev declared the parliament to be dissolved on April 17th in order to forestall impeachment. In response, parliament called a referendum on June 5 to continue Dudayev's rule and to fix new elections. For his part, Dudayev announced a referendum for July and early elections for September 1993. The President should remain in office until the parliamentary elections are over.

In May 1993, two formed Governments. President Dudayev appointed a new cabinet and appointed Mairbek Mugadayev as the new head of government. The parliament elected its own "parliamentary government" under ex-head of government Jaragi Mamodajew, who had meanwhile switched to the opposition. Yusup Soslambekov became the new parliamentary president. The conflict between president and parliament ended on June 6, 1993, similar to four months later in Moscow - with one Act of violence. With the help of his National Guard, President Dudayev had the opposition, which had occupied the mayor's office and the police department of Grozny in April 1993 and had held meetings on Theater Square since then, forcibly expelled (14 deaths) After a break in the fight - caused by the worsening power struggle in Moscow - the opposition made a renewed attempt to overthrow President Dudayev in December 1993. The armed units formed by Parliament in the spring of 1993 under the Defense Minister of the " Parliamentary Government ", Major General Ibrahim Suleymenov, occupied the presidential palace to force Dudayev to resign. But this attempted coup also failed.

Although President Dudayev remained the strong man in Chechnya, the situation in neighboring countries had changed fundamentally to his disadvantage. The nationalist and anti-communist presidents of Georgia (Gamsahurdia) and Azerbaijan (Elchibej) - potential allies of Dudayev - have since been overthrown and replaced by new pro-Russian rulers (Shevardnadze, Aliyev). Chechen "volunteers" in Abkhazia's struggle for secession also contributed indirectly to the overthrow of Georgian President Gamsahurdia, who found refuge with Dudayev in Grozny. Moscow may have remembered that Russia could only defeat the Chechens in the 19th century after the The tsarist army had conquered Georgia and Azerbaijan. After President Yeltsin forcibly got rid of the stubborn parliament in October 1993, Moscow was no longer likely to seek a peaceful solution to the Chechen conflict through negotiated diplomacy Nationalists and communists together. The scope for a balanced policy is narrow. The power struggle in Moscow continues unabated. As a result, the solution of the Chechnya conflict was left to Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Shakhrai. His concept of conflict resolution: building one r armed pro-Russian opposition with Moscow's help to overthrow President Dudayev and take power at the risk of a civil war.



From that point on, Moscow considered solving the Chechnya question as a priority in order to - according to Sergei Shakhrai - protect the "federal nature of the Russian state." In Shachrai's opinion, Moscow can no longer tolerate a situation in which 1.2 million Russian citizens live without the protection of the constitution (Nezavisimaya Gazeta, March 5, 1994). However, some Yeltsin supporters, including the chairman of the Federation Council, Shumeiko, continued to advocate the continuation of the political dialogue with Chechen President Dudayev In 1994, President Yeltsin was also not averse to agreeing a treaty with Chechnya - similar to Tatarstan - on the mutual delimitation of the powers of the organs of the respective state power (FAZ, July 30, 1994), but as the Cossack and ex-heavyweight boxer Nikolaj Yegorov succeeded Shakhrai as Minister of Nationality Policy, it became clear that the Moscow executive was in charge the "Hardliner" had prevailed. As Deputy Prime Minister Shakhrai initially retained primary responsibility for the Chechnya problem. From now on, however, Russia proceeded against Chechnya according to the same pattern as in the conflicts with other CIS countries (Georgia, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan), i.e. the conflicts are fanned until an intervention by Moscow appears unavoidable and internationally acceptable.

On July 29, 1994, the Russian government first issued a statement on letters and appeals from citizens and organizations in Chechnya, complaining, among other things, of the isolation of Chechnya from the Russian Federation and the activities of organized criminal groups. On August 3, a "political declaration" by the Chechen opposition was published in Moscow (Rossiyskaya Gazeta, August 3, 1994). Then the opposition was supplied with weapons and instructors by Russian helicopters, and their leaders received a Russian bodyguard. At the same time, Russia launched one new mediacampaign with stereotypes that amounted to the fact that military intervention was necessary not only to restore law and order in Chechnya, but also to curb crime in Russian cities. On August 26, the opposition started its military operation. Three days later, on August 29, the head of the Yeltsin's presidential administration, Sergei Filatov, complained about the disagreement between the opposition and the Dudayev regime (ITAR-TASS, August 29, 1994).

With the open support of armed opposition Moscow embarked on a risky game. Should the internal destabilization and overthrow with the help of the armed opposition fail, Moscow would only be left with the alternative of military intervention or the admission of defeat, i.e. recognition of the independence of Chechnya. Moscow discovered too late that it had selected and supported the "wrong" people for the internal opposition (Izvestija, October 21, 1994). Among them were Umar Avturchanov (ex-KGB man and head of administration of the Naderechni district), Aslanbek Aslachanov ( Army General of the Russian Army), Ruslan Khasbulatow (ex-chairman of the Russian parliament), Doku Sawgajew (ex-party leader of the Chechen-Ingush regional committee of the CPSU and head of department in the presidential apparatus of Boris Yeltsin), Salambek Khazhiyev (ex-oil minister of the USSR), Bes (Ex-Mayor of Grozny), Jaragi Mamodajew (Prime Minister of the "national consensus", ie the "Parliamentary Government"), Ruslan Labasanov (ex-bodyguard of Dudayev) and some military commanders (Chamzat Khankarow, Ibrahim Suleymenov and others).

The build-up of the pro-Russian armed opposition began in December 1993 in the stronghold of the old nomenklatura, in the Natterechni district in northwest Chechnya. A 22-strong man established himself there Provisional advice chaired by Umar Avturchanov and prepared the planned coup in the first half of 1994. In meetings with around 150 local clans, including the nine most powerful clans in Chechnya, attempts were made to persuade them to resist Dudayev. Moscow made several billions of rubles available to the council to win over the population by paying out outstanding wages, salaries and pensions. On July 24, Avturchanov officially asked President Yeltsin to recognize the Provisional Council and to help restore constitutional order. In early August, the Provisional Council formed a counter-government chaired by Ali Alavdinov, a "businessman" who was replaced by Salambek Hadschiev in November. The armed units of the Provisional Council were under the command of Badrudi Jemalkhanov.

In addition to the pro-Russian Provisional Council in Naderechni district still existed other groupingswho wanted to overthrow Dudayev's regime. Ruslan was one of them Khasbulatov, who arrived at his clan's headquarters in Tolstoy Yurt, north of Grozny, in August to build his base for a takeover. The traffic routes east of Grozny and the city of Argun were used by units of the Dudayev opponent Ruslan Labasanov who tried unsuccessfully to take Grozny in June. The Urus-Martan district, southwest of Grozny, was held by the Beslan troops Gantamirov occupied. During an advance in early September 1994, Dudayev's army succeeded in liberating the city of Argun from Labasanov's troops. Thereupon the supporters of Labasanov and Yaragi Mamodayev (Prime Minister of "national agreement") Ruslan Khasbulatov joined in Tolstoy-Yurt. Khazbulatov was elected chairman of a state council of the opposition forces. In mid-October the troops led by Gantamirov tried to get Russian air support But this attempted coup also failed: Dudayev's government troops counterattacked the Urus-Martan district and Gantamirov joined Avturchanov's Provisional Council.

One last - unsuccessful - attempt at overthrow undertaken by the armed internal opposition with open Russian support in mid-November 1994. Russian tanks from Mozdok (North Ossetia) advanced into Urus-Martan. Bratskoye, the only village in the Naderechni district held by Dudayev's supporters, was occupied by Russian troops. On November 18, Russian units, together with the internal opposition, tried to retake Grozny with Russian air support. This project also failed. A number of Russian soldiers were captured by Dudayev. After Moscow's concept of overthrowing Dudayev with the help of the armed internal opposition had failed, the only alternative options were recognition of Chechnya’s independence or military intervention. President Yeltsin withdrew the deputy prime minister Shakhrai from coordinating Chechnya politics. The minister for nationality policy, Nikolai Yegorov, was given exclusive power of attorney for this policy. The "hardliners" had prevailed. Moscow thus decided in favor of military intervention.



On December 1, 1994, Boris Yeltsin signed a decree on measures to consolidate law and order in the North Caucasus. This also included an amnesty for Dudayev's government troops, who lay down their arms by December 15. At the same time, Russian troops began to march on the borders of Chechnya. Since then, Grozny has been bombed daily by Russian planes.

On December 9, after deliberations in the Security Council, President Yeltsin issued another decree on the "disarming of illegal formations and the restoration of constitutional order" in Chechnya. On December 11, the military began intervention Russian army units. At least 40,000 men advanced from three directions (Ingushia, North Ossetia, Dagestan) to encircle the Chechen capital. During their advance on Grozny, they encountered bitter resistance not only in Chechnya, but also in Ingushia and Dagestan. In an appeal to the citizens of Russia, Boris Yeltsin justified the invasion of Russian troops with the intention of "finding a political solution" (ITAR-TASS, December 11, 1994). The political "solution" of the conflict, however, took place by means of violence. The Chechen-Russian negotiations were unsuccessful. In the meantime, the chairman of the Federation Council, Vladimir Shumeiko, who until then had vehemently advocated the continuation of the political dialogue, expressed his solidarity with Yeltsin and said that military intervention was necessary in the interests of Russia's territorial integrity.

Moscow Renunciation of negotiations without preconditions blocked the way to a peaceful solution to the conflict. The Secretary of the Security Council, Lobov, underlined Moscow's tough stance by saying that there would be no talks without a complete disarmament of Dudayev's government troops (Neue Zürcher Zeitung, December 20, 1994). Dudayev was ready to negotiate unconditionally, but not beforehand to disarm his troops. At this stage of the Russian military intervention, the Chechens would not have been ready to lay down their arms even on Dudayev's orders.

The deadline for the ultimatum set for December 15 and now 48 hours longer expired without the Chechens giving up. Admittedly, the regular units of the Russian army had not yet succeeded in building a complete Blocking ring to pull Grozny, but Moscow tried to force President Dudayev to surrender by means of rocket fire and bombing of the Chechen capital. At the same time Moscow decided to close all traffic routes to Azerbaijan and Georgia. Furthermore, with a decree of Yeltsin, a "Territorial administration of the federal executive bodies in the territory of the Chechen Republic "under the direction of the" hardliner "Nikolai Yegorov. On Russian television, the Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Air Forces, Dejnekin, declared that "neither a missile nor a bomb of the Russian Air Force will be used against the city of Grozny" and that "no one would give orders to any bombardments on peaceful residents." Nonetheless, the victims of the rocket fire and bombing were almost exclusively civilians. Foreign minister and "hardliner" Kozyrev wanted to solve the Chechnya problem in "a few days" and declared that the state had to "decisively exterminate the armed gangs" (INTERFAX, December 15, 1994) Counterattack above. It became clear that President Dudayev's opposition to Russia is not supported by "organized gangs" but by the entire Chechen people.

The general attack and the storming of Grozny began on December 28th. At the same time Moscow announced the formation of an opposition party "Government of the national rebirth " Headed by Salambek Hadschiev, who emerged from the unsuccessful Provisional Council (internal opposition).Hadschiev was a member of the CPSU, until 1991 general director of the scientific and technical association "Grozneftechim" in Grozny and until 1993 People's Deputy of the RSFSR. In 1991 he was Minister for Chemical and Petroleum Products of the USSR and joined the movement for democratic reforms (reform communists).

Fighting between the Russian army and Dudayev's Chechen government forces continued unabated until January 1, 1995 (at the time this report was finalized). The city of Grozny has not yet been conquered. Whether volunteers and mercenaries (from Ukraine, the Baltic States, Gamsahurdia supporters from Georgia, Tatars, "gray wolves" from Azerbaijan) will fight alongside the Chechens is still unclear Mountain tribes of the Caucasus organized "voluntary" fighters for use in Chechnya. A situation could well arise in which Chechnya is initially divided: the flat north would come under Russian control, while in the mountainous north the fighting (partisan war) would drag on for longer.



In the Chechnya conflict, in which the freely elected president of a "democratic" Russia is firing rockets at and bombing his own "Russian" citizens, concepts such as reason, logic and morality are out of place. Both Yeltsin's supporters in the Russian Federation (then RSFSR) and Dudayev's supporters in Chechnya have declared their country's independence and thus sealed the fall of the USSR state. During the attempted coup in August 1991 to save the USSR, the Dudayev supporters sided with Yeltsin. The communist leadership (nomenklatura) of Chechnya, on the other hand, supported the putschists. No sooner were Yeltsin and Dudayev in power as presidents of Russia and Chechnya, respectively, than Yeltsin did everything to reinstate the old communist leadership in Chechnya in place of Dudayev. When all attempts failed, Yeltsin resorted to brutal force, military intervention. He relied on that legality the use of force, knowing full well that the western democracies would raise no objections and no one would ask what kind of law it is, the only instruments of which are force and strength. True, both in Moscow and in the west of one political solution There is talk of the Chechnya conflict, but the solution to a conflict, whether by military or peaceful means, is always political. The Chechnya conflict would have gone along with it if Moscow had wanted it to peaceful means can be solved. Chechnya has always been ready under a Special status to remain in the Russian state association with extensive autonomy, for example on the model of the international agreement between Moscow and Tatarstan. But Yeltsin, consciously or because of misjudgments, renounced a peaceful solution to the conflict. If Moscow had wanted to settle the conflict peacefully, it should not have conducted negotiations with the Chechens from a position of strength and in ultimate language.

Basically, the question arises whether the Chechnya conflict is one Problem of International law is. Both Moscow and the western democracies present the conflict as an internal matter for Russia and primarily as a legal problem, whereby the "law" (state, constitutional and international law) and thus also the legality of the means, this "right" enforce, to be seen on the side of Moscow. But is the legal situation so clear? The Russian Federation (RSFSR) declared their sovereignty on June 11, 1990 and the Chechen-Ingush ASSR in the RSFSR on November 27, 1990 (with the simultaneous exit from the USSR). The Chechen Republic proclaimed its independence in October 1991, even before Yeltsin left the RSFSR and thus the fall of the USSR (December 1991). The Chechens invoked Yeltsin's request: "Take as much sovereignty as you want" and the right to self-determination granted by the then valid constitution. Yeltsin invokes Moscow's "law" based on the new, only after the Chechen declaration of independence in December 1991 The Russian constitution passed in 1993, which does not provide for a withdrawal from the Russian Federation, although Chechnya has not signed the new Federation Treaty at all, ie has not acceded to the Russian Federation at all. Against this background, the international community of states and their international lawyers should examine the question: Why are the RSFSR, Ukraine, the Baltic states, etc. allowed to leave the USSR and thus destroy this federal state? And why is the Chechen Republic not allowed to leave the state of the Russian Federation even though this does not destroy Russia's statehood? Or: Why, for example, can the Republic of Slovenia leave the Federal State of Yugoslavia without any problems, while the territorial integrity of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina is being destroyed by war and aggression, although the statehood of the Federal State of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) is not endangered?

In the Chechnya conflict, Moscow invokes the principle of territorial integrity and the inviolability of the borders of a state - and Western governments have adopted this position - while the Chechens rely on it Right of peoples to self-determination appointed. Both principles are valid international legal norms. The Western European democracies organized in nation states apparently prefer the principle of territorial integrity. At the same time, during the Cold War, they constantly propagated the principle of the right to self-determination as the highest good in international relations in Eastern Europe. In Eastern Europe and Eurasia, a region with artificial federal and multiethnic states, preferring the principle of territorial integrity means conjuring up countless conflicts and wars. Like the Baltic states, the Chechen Republic has the right to invoke the principle of self-determination regardless of when and how the Chechen people were incorporated into the Russian / Soviet empire. It is an indisputable fact that Russia colonized the Chechens and practiced all sorts of forms of oppression and genocide in the Caucasus. Nobody asked the Chechen people whether they wanted to join the Russian Federation or not. If President Yeltsin derives his "right" to military invasion from his current constitution, then this reflects an imperial power politics. Where reason, logic and morality have failed, only the self-created "right" to political action remains. If you follow Yeltsin's argument, then the European struggles for freedom of 1848/49, the US war of independence or the liberation movements in the colonies were "illegal" because they all violated the constitutions in force at the time. Eurasia has not yet been decolonized.

Even if the Chechen conflict is primarily a legal problem for Moscow (and the West), it is in reality one power and security problem. Russia did not recognize Chechnya de jure, but Moscow did de facto accept it for three years. The fact that violence broke out now of all times depends not least on the bitter one Power struggle in the center of Moscow, which is now also being held in the Chechnya arena. For racist forces in Russia, this Caucasian people, who use every means to avoid foreign rule, is the number one enemy. For the Chechens, the enemy is Russian imperial chauvinism. Since the withdrawal of the "Golden Horde" of the Mongols, Russian policy has only been aimed at one goal - constant territorial expansion.

The Russian war in Chechnya is Moscow's greatest military action since the unsuccessful and unsuccessful Afghanistan intervention. In the dirty war in the Caucasus, an area whose culture is completely foreign to the Russians and whose population has never joined Russia voluntarily, legal considerations are not at play, but supposed ones security interests as well as the prestige of a great power. The Chechen territory (after the separation of Ingushia not even 18,000 square kilometers) is of strategic importance for the geopolitically thinking Russian leadership because of the oil deposits there, the oil pipelines that run across Chechen territory and the traffic routes (roads, railways) that connect Russia with the Transcaucasus . In addition, there is certainly also the need, under the sign of the newly built enemy image of Islamic fundamentalism (after the loss of the old, capitalism), not to allow an Islamic state to emerge in Christian Europe (no matter how small).

Moscow's Caucasus War, which can also be understood as a diversionary maneuver from the power struggle in the Russian ruling elite or a show of strength, is undoubtedly having an impact Domestic politics Of Russia. It reduces the chances for a democratization of Russia and promotes the emergence of an authoritarian regime. Even before the military intervention in Chechnya, President Yeltsin's decrees, which are increasingly violating his own constitution, by illegally attacking the Most Bank by his security guard and gagging the state media (radio and television), showed where for the limits of democracy are to be drawn. President Yeltsin, seen in the West as a bulwark of democracy, can use the war in the Caucasus as an excuse to expand his power in the direction of a presidential dictatorship and / or bypass the 1996 presidential elections. He can continue to rule as a henchman for anti-democratic forces, but he can also be overthrown, increasingly isolated internally. Regardless of how the war ends, it will not bring more stability to Russia, but more domestic political insecurities.

It is certain that Yeltsin's policy is influenced by the "Falcon" is determined by the political forces. These include, among others, Security Council Secretary Lobov, Defense Minister Grachev, Interior Minister Jerin, Counterintelligence Chief Stepashin and the President's Plenipotentiary in Chechnya, Yegorov. In parliament, Yeltsin's Chechnya war support the faction of the nationalist Liberal Democratables Political party von Shirinovsky and the parliamentary group Women of Russia. The Commustnest accused Yeltsin of not having used the negotiating opportunities and, moreover, wait patiently until the president has worn himself out in the war of attrition. The Democrats are deeply divided on the war question. The democrats who remained in the government sided with Yeltsin: Foreign Minister Kozyrev, who resigned from the Election of Russia faction, the Deputy Prime Minister Shumeiko, who changed from a proponent of political dialogue to a supporter of military intervention, the Deputy Prime Minister and inventor of the Conception of the internal opposition in Chechnya, Shachrai, who has recently controlled war reporting in the state media, as well as most members of the Presidential Council. The mayor of St. Petersburg, Sobchak, an "ardent democrat," even spoke out in favor of the deportation of the Chechen diaspora from the cities of central Russia. The overwhelming majority of democrats regard Chechnya as part of Russia and military intervention as legal under international law, she rejects however, because it promotes the emergence of a police state in Russia. Representatives of this point of view include Gajdar (election of Russia), Jawlinsky (Yabloko), Borowoj (party of economic freedom), Lysenko (republican party), Satulin (business association) and Popov (ex-mayor of Moscow). Only a tiny number of democrats under the leadership of Sergei Kovalev (State Duma commissioner for human rights) advocate the right of self-determination for the Chechen people Foreign Minister Kozyrev as "extreme democrats" b marked.

Another consequence of the military intervention in Chechnya is the apparent division of the already broken, demoralized and poorly paid russish armywho ultimately has to do everything while President Yeltsin underwent a nose operation at the height of the crisis. The poorly prepared soldiers of regular units do not know what to do in Chechnya because it is an "internal affair". Russia is not threatened by any external enemy. The Chechens have not attacked any other areas of the Federation. Part of the military is on Yeltsin's side, including Grachev, some special units (Kantamirov Division, Tuman Division), the Kremlin Guard (Barschukow) and the security service (Korschakow), on which the President was able to rely when he stormed parliament in October 1993 Opposite them are the Yeltsin opponents and critics (Lebed, Gromov), sacked generals and nationalist, communist and democratic officers' associations such as the "Military for Democracy" movement. The split in the military could result in President Yeltsin losing control of the military.

That would mean: either President Yeltsin exercises his power with the support of his devoted part of the military, or he loses his power through an "uprising" by the other part of the army. Both alternatives would be fatal for democracy in Russia. Thus, President retained Yeltsin was right when he declared at the CSCE summit in Budapest at the beginning of December: "It would be too early to bury Russian democracy". She had just under a week to live until December 11th, the start of the Chechnya invasion.

In the shadow of the Chechnya war, the one conceived by democratic Russia appears Foreign and Security Policy in a different light. Its basis is again geopolitics, and in its main features it falls back on the tsarist and Soviet imperial politics. This war cannot simply be viewed as an "internal affair" that is irrelevant to the foreign policy of third countries.

If the Russian army can be used to resolve a political conflict between Moscow and Chechnya, then this can also be done in Moscow (as has already happened) and in other regions of the Russian Federation, but not least in countries of the "Near abroad", happen. The destabilizing effect of the Chechnya war on the CIS can be seen in the fearful reactions of its member states (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan). Georgia, whose statehood largely depends on Moscow's goodwill, justified the entry of Russian troops into Chechnya by saying that Russia had no choice but to preserve its territorial integrity. Ukraine, on the other hand, described the Russian military operation as a violation of human rights. The Russian army is already present as a CIS armed force (Tajikistan), as a peacekeeping force (Georgia, Azerbaijan), with military bases (Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine) and as a border force in all CIS countries in the Transcaucasus and Central Asia.

In this context it must not be forgotten that Russia is in eastEurope - not least with the successful prevention of NATO's eastward expansion - is already performing again in its old role of great power. As the Serbs' closest ally, Moscow won its first diplomatic battle in the war in Yugoslavia. It prevailed with the option of creating a confederation between Belgrade and the Bosnian Serbs - as a preliminary stage for a Greater Serbia. If one considers the attempt to reorganize the OSCE (CSCE) according to Russian ideas, the successful paralysis of Turkey in the Chechnya conflict, the efforts to lift the UN embargo on Iraq and the Russian demand for an immediate revision of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe considered, the result is a well-rounded picture of the breadth of a new Russian foreign and security policy taking advantage of the weaknesses of existing Western alliances.

Against this background, the Position of the west Russia's war in the Caucasus, i.e. its classification as an "internal affair" which does not concern the Western democracies, is difficult to understand. It can hardly be explained with reason, logic and morality, rather with the apolitical term "cowardice". Believing that it has won the Cold War, the West is embarking on a voluntary and complacent self-isolation. No major Western politician stands up against it.Both the UN and NATO Secretary General Willy Claes and US Secretary of Defense William Perry have endorsed Moscow's language regime by calling the Chechnya war an "internal affair" for Russia (Süddeutsche Zeitung, December 16, 1994) A change in sentiment with regard to the brutality of the Russian warfare is to be expected, but not a change in the Western view that the annexation of the Chechen Republic is in itself "lawful".

The West justifies its silence with the argument that it does not want to work into the hands of President Yeltsin's opponents. In reality, however, it is Yeltsin supporters, democrats, liberal forces and pro-Westerners who oppose war, and Western silence weakens their positions, while it gives Yeltsin opponents and supporters of war renewed impetus.

Another Western argument amounts to a horror scenario: Should President Yeltsin fail in the Caucasus war, this would mean the destabilization of Russia with unforeseeable consequences. The spokesman for the US State Department, Mike McCurry, stated: "We see an enormous danger in the prospect that the Russian Federation could disintegrate because of the ethnic and regional rivalries" (quoted from: BPA-Hörfunkspiegel Abroad, December 15, 1994, p 13) It is difficult to understand the dangers that could arise if independent states were established in some areas of the federation instead of the federation being held together by armed force.

The fact remains: whether Yeltsin wins the Caucasus War or not, this war will in any case have a destabilizing effect on the domestic political situation. There is no evidence that the peaceful release of Chechnya to independence would lawfully and inevitably lead to a chain reaction and the collapse of the Russian Federation. Rather, such a decision by Yeltsin would have stabilized both Russia and the entire region. There would have been a real chance for the emergence of a democratic association of states based on real autonomy of the national and ethnic minorities.

The assertion that Moscow's war in Chechnya is a purely internal matter, one that does not allow the international community to interfere, is in blatant contradiction to international law practiced today. From this point of view, the UN has for years done nothing but "interfere" in internal affairs (Somalia, Angola, Mozambique, Rwanda, Cambodia, Haiti, Bosnia, etc.). Such "interference" would be on the territory of the former Soviet Union so more appropriate as here the communists created arbitrary and unjust administrative borders within a communist unitary state, which after the collapse of this state were all too quickly recognized by the West as immovable national borders. The result is a myriad of conflicts.

The war in Chechnya shows the lack of foresight in Western politics, which assumes that the legal basis of the current world order is the territorial integrity of the states that already exist, regardless of how "just" these states have emerged. Right "is to protect what already exists, even if this can only be achieved through violence. This legal conception can be applied relatively easily in Western Europe, where the nation-states have been firmly established for a long time. But the process of nation formation and nationalization is far from over. In Eastern Europe and Eurasia the peoples are only now reaching the stage in which they are forming into nations, which requires a more independent statehood. Therefore, in order to avoid conflicts, the principle of the right of self-determination of the peoples should be given priority in these regions.


© Friedrich Ebert Foundation | technical support | net edition fes-library | March 1998