International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

May 13, 2004

May 13, 2004






**  President Kadyrov's "humiliating" death shows Putin's Chechen concept "failed completely."


**  Putin cannot end the conflict "without political negotiations."


**  Liberal papers reject equating the Chechen conflict with the "fight against Islamic terrorism."


**  As there is "no obvious candidate" to replace Kadyrov, Chechnya faces "political chaos." 




'The collapse of the Kremlin's policy in Chechnya'--  Worldwide, dailies agreed that Kadyrov's assassination posed "a serious blow to Moscow's Chechnya policy."  Many further described his death as a "personal disaster" for Putin that proves his "Chechnya plan is a failure."  Russia's reformist Izvestiya judged that the act "completely destroyed the Kremlin's formula whereby Kadyrov spells stability," while Germany's right-of-center Die Welt concluded that Moscow's "attempt to pacify the conflict with a puppet regime has failed."


'Start true negotiations with separatists'--  Global papers agree that a "solution without negotiations with rebels seems unlikely," warning against military retaliation and its "discredited politics of payback."  Australia's liberal Sydney Morning Herald opined that "a return to political negotiations is the only way forward"; Japan's liberal Mainichi agreed that the "use of force alone will not resolve the Chechen problem."  Belgian, Italian and Arab writers expressed concern that Moscow could launch a new "scorched-earth policy," for which Saudi Arabia's pro-government Arab News predicted "Chechens will pay the price."


Chechnya 'is a particularly Russian problem'--  Western writers dismissed Putin's attempts to "hide behind the word terrorism" in Chechnya, blasting the "tacit deal" with the U.S. which gave him "carte blanche to ravage" the rebellious republic in exchange for cooperation in the war on terror.  Canada's leading Globe and Mail assailed Moscow's "cynical strategy" of depicting the "military crackdown as a fight against Islamic terrorists."  Other writers labeled Chechnya "Putin's Iraq," with Italy's centrist Corriere della Sera saying both Putin and Bush face "an explosive combination of nationalism and religious fanaticism."


The Kremlin 'is back to square one'--  Observers agreed Chechens will not mourn "puppet President" Kadyrov's "ruthless" regime, but Russian outlets praised the "semblance of stability" Kadyrov had achieved.  Several backed Kadyrov's son, Ramzan, as a successor who could "maintain at least a status quo"; business-oriented Kommersant judged that while he is "too young and inexperienced...with him as president, it would be possible to avoid power struggles."  Other dailies noted Putin could "impose direct rule," but that would "fuel the fires of Chechen resentment."  British and Japanese papers warned that "authoritarian behavior" in Chechnya could derail Moscow's agenda to build "a free and economically strong Russia."


EDITOR:  Ben Goldberg


EDITOR'S NOTE:  Media Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment.  Posts select commentary to provide a representative picture of local editorial opinion.  This report summarizes and interprets foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government.  This analysis was based on 41 reports from 16 countries over 10 - 12 May 2004.  Editorial excerpts from each country are listed from the most recent date.




RUSSIA:  "A Blow To Moscow's Policy"


Sergey Markov stated in official government-run Rossiyskaya Gazeta (5/12):  "The death of Chechen President Akhmat Kadyrov is a serious blow to Moscow's Chechnya policy.  He was Moscow's best bet in the efforts to pull Chechnya out of the war and chaos.  In the days ahead the Kremlin will have to decide who will run Chechnya.  Its choice is important in that the ongoing political process in Chechnya has a strong influence on all of the North Caucasus, Russia's policy and relations with other countries."


"Russia Out Of Time"


Ivan Sukhov asserted in reformist Vremya Novostey (5/12): "If the Kremlin were to alter course, give up the let-the-Chechens-build-peace-on-their-own idea, and install a governor general instead of having the Chechens elect a new president from their own midst, that would be tantamount to admitting being in the wrong and weak.  In that case, it would have to start all over again.   Russia simply has no time for that.   To phase out the process of a political settlement and get back to an all-out clean-up campaign is hardly possible.   Another war would ultimately kill popular trust in conciliatory procedures, elections and referenda in Chechnya and the rest of the North Caucasus.   The only option open to the Kremlin before the next presidential elections is to try and make do with what and whom it has been left with."


"Mainstay Of Stability Destroyed"


Georgiy Ilyichev, Anton Klyuyev and Aleksandr Sadchikov pointed out in reformist Izvestiya (5/12):  "The balance of forces and the general situation in Chechnya may change since the terrorist act has completely destroyed the Kremlin's formula whereby Kadyrov spells stability."


"The U.S., Russia Face Similar Problems"


Kirill Rogov mused in business-oriented Vedomosti (5/12):  "Altogether, the problems the Americans and Russians have been up against in Iraq and Chechnya respectively, for all their differences, are very similar.  But the methods Washington and Moscow have been using to resolve those problems are quite different.  Moscow, attempting to bring about peace in Chechnya, has proceeded from the might-is-right rule as the basis of the Chechens' social ethics....  Conversely, the Americans have stuck to a rationalist occupation doctrine.  On the one hand, the occupation troops ensure a certain level of 'civilized repression' within the legal constraints of the martial law regime.  On the other, there is a process going on to form a coalition of economic interests involving local elites.  Only a month ago, with the Americans' Iraq model clearly in the doldrums, news from Chechnya sounded like a demonstration of the Moscow doctrine's triumph....  The Kadyrov assassination is a fatal blow to the idea of janissary governor-generalship....  It appears that neither the American nor the Russian models will work these days."


"Fiasco Of Kremlin's Policy"


Yulia Kalinina opined in reformist youth-oriented Moskovskiy Komsomolets (5/12):  "Objectively, the Kadyrov assassination attests to the collapse of the Kremlin's policy in Chechnya.  This policy is wrong and leads to a dead end.  It needs to be changed radically.  But before that happens, which is going to take quite a while, Moscow is likely to try some 'cosmetic changes.'"


"Chechnya Forever"


Olga Romanova noted in business-oriented Vedomosti (5/11):  "Death, especially a violent one, makes a politician infallible.  While many become so for a short while, some--Ulof Palme is one of them--forever.  The Kadyrov assassination is the ultimate proof of his being outstanding.  He is, indeed, in many ways.  His death is a very painful loss to both Chechnya and Russia.   That is, to Moscow and the Kremlin.  Ordinary Russians, if bad comes to worse, may be affected, too, if Chechen clans start a war among themselves or against the federal government all over Russia.   Kadyrov maintained a semblance of stability in Chechnya.  He firmly controlled its finances, was accepted, if reluctantly, in the Muslim world, skillfully used the carrot and the stick as he dealt with clan leaders and militants, and knew how to come to terms with and, if need be, rebuff the Feds.   While not exactly happy with Kadyrov, Moscow had to put up with him.  It simply had no choice....  The Kadyrov assassination is good for Maskhadov, Basayev and others of that ilk.   But then, of course, there is a difference between Maskhadov and Basayev: the former is a legitimately elected president--something Russians prefer not to remember--and the latter, unquestionably, is a terrorist.   So far, there has been no evidence of their involvement in the Kadyrov assassination, but they are bound to be accused of it."


"Kremlin Has To Go Back To Square One"


Anastasiya Matveyeva said in reformist Gazeta (5/11):  "The power system the Kremlin has taken so much pain to build in Chechnya in the last few years has crashed along with Akhmat Kadyrov.   Now the Russians have to go back to square one....  Relations between Kadyrov and the federal government were not always smooth.   He was at odds with the military, often calling its actions against the peaceful population 'unfounded.'   Kadyrov did much to form the Chechen militia, an alternative to the federal forces, and wanted it to be primarily responsible for disarming and eliminating militants.  In that, Kadyrov was successful....  True, in return for his loyalty to Moscow, Kadyrov sometimes demanded unthinkable economic privileges....  A new Chechen president must be a young man, free of any commitments to the clans.   He must be a technocrat, possibly an entrepreneur, in a good black suit, with good Russian and English, who will think of economic problems, not wahhabism, and really help Chechnya out of its plight, according to Aleksey Malashenko of the Moscow Carnegie Center."


"An Heir Apparent"


Andrey Krasnov wrote in business-oriented Kommersant (5/11):  "The late President's son, Ramzan, is named among presidential candidates in Chechnya.   With the head of the State Council, Hussein Isayev, Akhmat Kadyrov's closest associate, killed on the same day, Ramzan is the only one who can contend for the role of the late President's successor.   While local and Moscow officials admit privately that Kadyrov Jr. is too young and inexperienced, many believe that, with him as president, it would be possible to avoid power struggles that seem inevitable should any of Akhmat Kadyrov's political opponents prevail."


"Late President's Son Might Maintain Status Quo"


Sergey Yuryev held in reformist youth-oriented Komsomol'skaya Pravda (5/11):  "Today, after the Chechen President's death, Moscow can substantially strengthen its influence on the situation in the republic.   While in legal politics, there seems to be no one adequate to Akhmat Kadyrov, in illegal politics, there is ex-President Aslam Maskhadov....  The most vivid proof of Ramzan being seriously considered for the job is his appearance in the Kremlin on May 9 in a sweatshirt and sneakers and his long conversation with Putin behind closed doors.   As president, Ramzan Kadyrov might objectively maintain at least a status quo in Chechnya."


"The Puppeteer's Dilemma"


Pavel Felgenhauer held in the English-language Moscow Times (5/11):  "In less than a week the Kremlin has lost two of its most important henchmen in the Caucasus: Aslan Abashidze, longtime ruler of Adzharia, was ousted in a bloodless coup, while the pro-Moscow Chechen president, Akhmad Kadyrov, was killed when an explosion ripped through a Grozny stadium during Victory Day celebrations Sunday....  In nearby Chechnya the situation is not much better.  The Kremlin had backed Kadyrov since 1999, and his death was a major strategic defeat.   President Vladimir Putin portrayed Kadyrov as the 'political solution' to the Chechen problem. Kadyrov formed a personally loyal security service and police force, employing many former rebels.  This force was designed to tackle the threat of separatist fighters and eventually to replace the Russian military in the region....  Most Chechens despise the Kadyrov loyalists (kadyrovtsy in Russian), accusing them of torture, kidnapping and other crimes.  The Russian military despises them as former rebels who were attacking federal troops just a few years ago.  No matter who now takes the reins in Chechnya, the situation in the republic will spin out of control.  There are simply too many armed men with too many scores to settle....  Despite the Kremlin's claims to the contrary, Chechen rebels seem to have maintained a functional underground network that has penetrated deep into the pro-Moscow political and security apparatus in the region.  The Kremlin's policy of controlling the Caucasus with hand-picked local strongmen is in tatters.  It turns out that the Russian military and security services, unreformed and notoriously corrupt, cannot defend our own allies.  If Putin does not begin to change course immediately, more such disasters will follow and Russia's influence in the Caucasus will continue to wane."


BRITAIN:  "Putin's Weak Point"


An editorial in the conservative Daily Telegraph read (5/10):  "With yesterday's murder of the local placeman it lies in tatters.  The president has spoken of retribution but there seems little scope for effective military action.  He faces, rather, the prospect of political chaos as Chechens vie for the succession....  In the absence of viable institutions, the president is particularly vulnerable when disaster comes, as in Grozny yesterday.  In his inaugural address last Friday, Mr. Putin said freedom was the foundation for economic growth and political stability in Russia.  His authoritarian behaviour gives the lie to those words--and nowhere more so than in Chechnya."


"For Russia’s Putin, Chechnya Is A War That Doesn’t Exist"


Ian Traynor wrote in the left-of-center Guardian (5/10):  "While the U.S., Britain and the Arab world grow increasingly outraged at the torture of Iraqi prisoners, Putin’s forces have carte blanche to ravage Chechnya on a daily basis with impunity.  The Russian leader need not concern himself with the Russian equivalent of CBS airing any footage of humiliation....  Putin solved the problem by taking control of all national television....  And still Putin pretends there is no war, until a “terrorist” bomb explodes on one of the holiest days in the Russian calendar, May 9....  Sunday’s attack, the boldest Chechen guerrilla strike since the Moscow theater siege of October 2002, deprived Putin of his self-appointed loyal Chechen leader, Akhmad Kadyrov, and, more importantly from the military’s point of view, of Gen. Valery Baranov, the Russian commander in Chechnya.  In Chechnya itself, there are no more prestigious targets for the guerrillas than these two.  The retribution will be terrifying.  And guaranteed to perpetuate the long spiral of violence in what Putin insists ad nauseum is Russia’s own war on terror.  That is the tacit deal struck between Moscow and Washington since 9/11.  He gets a green light for his Chechen campaign, in return for sharing intelligence with the U.S. and not resisting U.S. bases in post-Soviet Central Asia....  But the parallel between Russia in Chechnya and America in Afghanistan or Iraq is also specious.  Chechnya is a 200-year-old story of Russian empire and expansion, conquest and coexistence, rebellion and retribution....  Russia is not dispatching an expeditionary force thousands of miles overseas.  It is fighting a homegrown war in its own backyard, one of the last battles of Russian colonialism.  But if Putin really did win, the victory could also embolden the Kremlin to flex its muscles in the post-Soviet territories it has lost....  Eschewing politics, seeking a showdown and violence, the Kremlin has preferred self-fulfilling prophecy.  That may be the one area where Putin has been successful.  He should not be surprised to be confronting fundamentalist Islamists, black widow female suicide bombers, and a jihad."


GERMANY:  "Russia's Heavy Mortgage"


Karl Grobe opined in left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau (5/11):  "[Putin's] reaction mirrors the distorted picture he usually paints of Chechens.  It is a simple thought of revenge.  The Russian President should prosecute the crimes mercenaries, agents and soldiers commit in the name of his government, but they are not even publicly acknowledged.  That caused the deathly attacks in Grozny, but Putin keeps justifying culprits in uniform.  This does not exonerate the assassins of Grozny or those who bombed the pop concert in Moscow, kidnapped innocent people at the Musical Theater and committed other crimes.  The President's revenge rhetoric is disturbing, being at the same level as terrorists.  That is a devastating indication of failure."


"Back To Square One"


Elke Windisch argued in centrist Der Tagesspiegel of Berlin (5/10):  "The best constitution is worth nothing if there is no will to implement it.  However, it can only come at the end of a national reconciliation, not at the beginning.  Besides, elections that don't offer alternatives are senseless; separatists, who still are a relevant force in Chechnya, remained excluded.  Democrats in Russia and abroad criticized this right from the start.  The way out of the dilemma cannot be to install another puppet president, but Moscow must start true negotiations with separatists and should not equate them with terrorists from the very beginning."


"Symbolic Targets"


Peter Sturm commented in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (5/10):  "Terror attacks cannot be averted anytime and anywhere.  However, Russia's President, who is among the greatest advocates of strict anti-terror measures, seems to be struggling here in particular.  Otherwise Chechen terrorists would not succeed so often in hitting symbolic targets....  It is correct to hunt assassins and the masterminds of attacks, but Putin should know by now that he must offer Chechens more than obedient politicians who just implement what Russians have formulated for the small Caucasian Republic.  You could get the impression that Moscow believes all Chechens to be terror suspects.    This is not the way for Russia to pacify the region.  Terrorists will not and must not prevail, but they can live better with this chaos than Russia.  Putin's partner, like those in Berlin, should have a word with their friend."


"A Vilified President"


Tomas Avenarius opined in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (5/10):  "The assassination is more than a Chechen act of revenge.  It reveals President Putin's 'political solution' of the Caucasian conflict as a failure; the Kremlin head had declared that the war is over....  This conflict has torn the Chechen people apart:  The war is not only one against Russia, but it is also a civil war between Chechens who are faithful to Moscow and those who are hostile....  The Kremlin must have known that a man like Kadyrov could not create peace.  Putin's 'political solution' was an admission of weakness right from the start.  Russia's military force did not get the conflict under control; rebels took the war out of Chechnya, bombs exploded in Moscow.  With Kadryrov, a Chechen was meant to solve Chechnya's problems:  Caucasians fight each other while Moscow interests are secured and Chechnya remains dependent.  The assassination made Putin's divide-and-rule policy nonsense and vilifies the President…  The war will still last many years, its outcome remains open and a solution without negotiations with rebels seems unlikely."




Manfred Quiring maintained in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (5/10):  "The President's tenure could hardly start worse:  Only one day after the pompous inauguration and on the day of victory over Nazi Germany, which is a very emotional one in Russia, Chechens demonstrated President Putin's lack of power....  The attempt to pacify the conflict with a puppet regime has failed.  Any attempt the repeat this will have the same fate.  Putin should not give all the power to the loyal forces in the country and exclude others.  All ideas to resolve the conflict are doomed to fail as long as Putin hides behind the word terrorism and does not accept that Chechnya is a particularly Russian problem, despite all the international connections."


ITALY:  "Under The Iraqi And Chechen Ashes"


An editorial in elite, classical liberal Il Foglio read (5/11):  "In Washington the Chechen situation is being followed closely, as a good opportunity to strengthen collaboration with Moscow that in the last few weeks has made good progress....  George Bush knows he needs Putin, today more than yesterday, especially after the revelations of abuse in Iraq.  Only Russian mediation can assure overcoming the June 30 obstacle at the UN.  But today Putin as well knows he needs Bush to come out of the Chechen stalemate and out of the failure of the unilateral solution.  And no one is able to understand the difficulties more than Bush, who has been repeatedly accused of unilateralism.  Both presidents, who have been weakened, one by Baghdad and the other by Grozny, have the common urgency to minimize their crises within the big project for the geo-strategic redefinition of the Near, Far, and Middle East, which will become credible only if supported simultaneously by Washington and Moscow.”


“The Dirty War and The Kremlin’s Silence”


Sandro Viola noted in left-leaning, influential La Repubblica (5/10):  “In Chechnya one of the various games with Islamic terrorism is being played out. In fact, the fighters that come from the mountains to kill the Russians and their collaborators are not only the patriots and nationalists. They are Islamic fundamentalists who received Saudi funding, whose command is made up of former ‘Afghans’ who came from al-Qaeda. But the war that Putin has been conducting for the last five years, and that he promised to put an end to when he came into power, has strengthened fundamentalism in the Caucasus. The employment of a scorched-earth policy, the ferociousness of repression, the inability to give way to true and generous talks with those Chechens who are tired of so much death and destruction, have made Chechnya a separate case in the fight against Islamic terrorism--a case of political solidity, the unmistakable sign of a partial return to Soviet era mentality and methods. In fact, Russia remains silent. The Kremlin does not allow objections. Its conduct in Chechnya has failed, but criticism is prohibited. And if Russia remains silent, then the international community as well is completely voiceless.”


“From Baghdad To Grozny”


Sergio Romano observed in centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (5/10):  “Putin’s Chechen operation and Bush’s Iraqi one have collided with the same enemies: an explosive combination of nationalism and religious fanaticism. And both now seem destined to suffer the same outcome--with one difference, however. The Americans can always take a step back, perhaps with more UN involvement. The Russians, however, have their backs to the wall. For Putin, Chechnya has been for more than 200 years a part of its national territory. It’s an oil crossroads. It’s the Caucasus’ gateway. Its defeat would bring doubts on Putin’s leadership and on the integrity of the Russian state. And it could have more serious repercussions, for the international equilibrium of the Iraqi crisis itself.”


“The American Support And Distinctions”


Paolo Mastrolilli stated in centrist, influential La Stampa (5/10):  “On one hand, the U.S. considers Russia a fundamental ally in the fight against terrorism and therefore denounces the Chechen attacks. On the other hand, while it understands President Putin’s desire to link the attacks on its own national territory to the fight against al-Qaeda, it has always thought it necessary to find a political solution to this dispute....  Bush wants to enlist Putin in the war against terrorism, also because al-Qaeda is operating just outside Russia’s doors and yesterday’s attack reinforces this conviction. Washington, however, needs Moscow to give political signals on Chechnya, in order to better justify the alliance.”


AUSTRIA:  “Putin Humiliated”


Josef Kirchengast commented in liberal Der Standard (5/10):  “Putin’s strategy on the war in Chechnya--that initially catapulted him to the top, but has by now become a burden on the domestic front--has been to pass it off increasingly as a regional issue. He appointed Kadyrow to do that job: He was Putin’s man in Grosny. His death is a humiliation for the Russian President....  Putin’s concept for Chechnya has failed completely.”


BELGIUM:   "A Slap In Vladimir Putin's Face"


Foreign editor Frank Schloemer noted in independent De Morgen (5/11):  "The attack (in Grozny) is a humiliation for Vladimir Putin and shows that his Chechnya plan is a failure. It is a blow to the head of state himself....  Putin should and could have known that a man like Kadyrov would not bring a political solution or peace.  Even moderate Chechens considered Kadyrov a traitor with whom no one does business.  However, Putin made himself a victim of his divide-and-rule policy.  It is clear that he only wants a military victory.  The recent past has demonstrated that he cannot win that confrontation and that he is even being humiliated....  The future is clear: there will be a retaliation by the Russian forces and the rebels will respond to that with terror.  As recently as last week Putin boasted about his struggle against separatism and terrorism, but reality simply is that it will be a long war and that Putin cannot win it without political negotiations with the rebels."




Foreign editor Paul De Bruyn observed in conservative Christian-Democrat Gazet van Antwerpen (5/11):  "The Russians are stuck in a no-win situation in Chechnya.  Thousands of soldiers are pinned down in the battlefield.  They cannot leave Chechnya.  The situation is much too dangerous to do that because the rebels are determined to continue their war.  Furthermore, a withdrawal would be painful loss of face for Putin and the Russian supreme command.  They cannot and don't want that to happen.  The only sound way to break the deadlock is a solution via negotiations.  That is what the Chechen World Congress has proposed, but Putin rules it out.  He wants to defeat the insurgents with military violence.  He will not talk to 'bandits.'  However, that means that he is leaving only option to his government:  to stay and bite the bullet.  Unless the Russians achieve spectacular successes in the battlefield--which nobody thinks will be the case--the deadlock will go on for many years." 




Ludwig De Vocht remarked in independent financial De Tijd (5/10):  "The lethal attack against Kadyrov is new proof that the situation in the Caucasian republic is far from normalized.  Putin's announcement yesterday that 'retaliation is inevitable' forebodes nothing good. It seems to herald new bold actions against the separatists--always called 'terrorists' by Moscow.  If it is true that the separatists are responsible, it contradicts Moscow's claims that the latter were on the losing side.  The ball is in the Kremlin's court now. Yesterday Russian political circles have already proposed to place Chechnya under direct presidential control."


IRELAND:  "Theories Conflict Over Who Killed Kadyrov"


Dan Mclaughlin commented in the center-left Irish Times (5/10):  "Long-used to dodging assassination attempts in a homeland where he was widely despised, Chechnya's president Mr. Akhmad Kadyrov thought that his death would mean little in the chronic battle between Moscow and the region's separatist rebels....  Mr. Kadyrov's death--under heavy guard, amid celebrations marking the defeat of Nazi Germany, just two days after Mr. Putin was inaugurated again as president--was as humiliating for the Kremlin as it was terrifying for its allies in Chechnya....  Perhaps the rebels managed it.  They welcomed its outcome without claiming responsibility yesterday.  Perhaps someone else wanted Mr. Kadyrov dead.  Whoever killed him, amid the fog of conflicting theories, it is harder than ever to see a peaceful future for Chechnya.”


TURKEY:  “The Caucasus in Turmoil”


Sami Kohen commented in mass appeal Milliyet (5/12):  “The assassination of pro-Russian President Ahmet Kadyrov in Chechnya has eradicated all hopes for peace in the region.  The death of Kadyrov, who rebelled against Russian domination at the beginning but was elected president after making his peace with Moscow, increases the risks of chaos and civil war in Chechnya.  While the violence continues in the country, the main concern is the course to be followed by Prime Minister Putin following this incident.  It is obvious that it is not possible to suppress the violence with military power only. However, it is also clear that a solution to this complicated problem through political channels is very unlikely.  In fact, the people of Chechnya are fed up with this situation.  The incident in Grozni brings this drama to a more serious level.”


"Terror In Chechnya"


Mustafa Balbay contended in social democrat-opinion maker Cumhuriyet (5/11):  “The murder of Chechen President Kadyrov has again brought the security of the Caucasus region to the international agenda.  The internal security of Chechnya is a matter of priority for Russia....  Yet the terrorist attacks will make it very hard for the Chechens to justify their cause.  Thanks to these terrorist actions, human rights and democracy issues have been pushed into the background, and Russia will be able to rally the whole world for support in its fight against terrorism....  Putin’s foreign policy can be defined by two priorities.   First, Russia will not interfere in faraway areas such as the Middle East and Eastern Europe.  Second, Russia will not allow others to interfere to in its immediate neighborhood - i.e., Central Asia and the Caucasus.  In this context, Chechnya clearly falls within Russia’s internal circle....  The Caucasus is still important for Russia in terms of internal security.  Every country, including Turkey, should take this policy into account while making policy formulations in the Caucasus.”




SAUDI ARABIA:  "Death In Chechnya"


The pro-government English-language Arab News editorialized (5/10):  "Yesterday’s assassination of Chechen President Akhmad Kadyrov blows a gaping hole in Russia’s Chechnya policy. At a stroke not only is Moscow without its puppet, Chechnya is patently not a war won....  Those who so willingly swallowed the illusion will have to think again. The separatists may have been reduced to small separate groups, but they can clearly strike out and kill at will.  The Chechens will weep no tears at Kadyrov’s death. But neither will they rejoice. He was despised by his people as a traitor....  As mufti of Chechnya during the turbulent fighting in the 1990s he had also played the role of a guerrilla commander, calling for jihad against Russia. But by 1999 he had switched sides, ditching separatism for the profitable position of Moscow’s man.  Yet the Chechens elected him president last October. It was an act of desperation. They knew him as a turncoat, but they hoped that he might bring them the peace they craved. A peace of sorts did come about--the peace of subjugation, with 30,000 Russian troops to ensure it--but even that is now at risk. There has to be a real fear that Chechens will pay the price at the hands of the Russian Army as it moves to crush the remaining militants.  These may currently be uncoordinated...but Kadyrov’s assassination is bound to rally the separatists--something Moscow will not tolerate.  For Vladimir Putin, it is a personal disaster. He has staked his reputation on crushing the Chechens; every time there has been an election, being tough on Chechnya has been his winning campaign promise. What does he do now? He chose Kadyrov. Without him, the all-important pretense that Chechnya is both self-administered and loyal to Moscow is in tatters. Putin needs to make sure that someone loyal to Moscow takes over. But there is no obvious Chechen replacement waiting in the wings....  The only alternative would be to impose direct rule from Moscow, but that would be even more destructive and would fuel the fires of Chechen resentment."


QATAR:  "Assassin Reveals The Flaw In Putin's Plans"


The semi-independent expatriate-oriented English-language Gulf Times held (5/10):  "Ahmed Kadyrov, the pro-Russian President of Chechnya who was killed in a bomb blast yesterday, was not only a separatist who switched to the federalist cause, he was also an Islamic scholar who became Chechnya's 1995, before being sacked by separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov.  Kadyrov's switch of loyalties infuriated his former associates, making him a prime target....  Given the situation in Chechnya, it is surprising that Kadyrov managed to dodge his assassins for so long. He was 'elected' president in polls that were widely regarded as rigged by Moscow and went on to preside, more as warlord than president, over a shaky administration that lacked popular support.  But while those in the Kremlin may mourn the loss of a key player in their Chechen strategy, there will probably not be many of his own countrymen who will regret the loss. Not only have the Russians devastated the republic in their efforts to defeat the separatists...Kadyrov's own militiamen are accused of kidnapping, raping and torturing their fellow-citizens....  Abuses inflicted on the Chechens have been far more widespread and terrible than those that the Iraqis have suffered....  They have received far less attention. In part, that is  because Chechnya is not considered important by the Western media. In addition, the EU and US have censored their own comments because Russian President Vladimir Putin projected Chechnya as a battleground in the 'war on terror'....  Kadyrov's death is an enormous problem for the Russian government and for Putin personally. All Moscow's plans for Chechnya were based on the idea that Kadyrov would be Moscow's strong-man in the republic....  Now there is no obvious candidate to replace him and without a credible Chechen figure to replace him, progress towards transferring control of the republic to the pro-Moscow faction among the Chechens will be delayed.  For the moment, the Chechen Prime Minister Sergei Abramov has been made acting president but is unlikely to be seen as a good long-term bet. Today, Putin and his advisors must be questioning the wisdom of having relied so heavily on a single man in such a violent and unstable republic."


UAE:  "The Russian Circus"


The English-language expatriate-oriented Khaleej Times declared (5/11):  "There are no shortcuts to peace.  The assassination of Akhmad Kadyrov, the leader imposed by Moscow on Chechnya in a ridiculously rigged referendum last October, goes to prove this.  However, there are no signs that Russia has drawn any lessons from the sobering development.  President Putin’s response to the crisis created by Kadyrov’s exit shows that the unfortunate people of Chechnya cannot hope of peace and independence to run their own affairs in the foreseeable future.  The Kremlin has 'appointed’ Chechen Prime Minister Sergei Abramov as the new leader perpetuating the chaos and bloodshed in the Muslim republic....  Call it a quirk of fate or old-fashioned political opportunism, the Chechen leader who once inspired the ranks of freedom fighters ended up a traitor in Moscow’s lap....  It is long past time for President Putin to realize that Russia can never hope to win this war whose outcome is already known and decided.  The era of colonization is long over.  In the 21st century, no power including the moth-eaten Russia, can force another country and people to submit to its writ.  But why does Russia...continue to deny independence to Chechnya?  The answer lies in the rich oil reserves of the Caucasian country.  All these years, Russia got away with murder thanks to the fact that the world has been too focused on Middle East to worry about Chechnya.  The U.S., too, conveniently ignored the problem....  The world must break its silence now and strongly advise Moscow to end this long-drawn bloody circus in Chechnya.  It is in Kremlin’s own interests.  Instead of looking for puppets like Kadyrov, Putin would do well to engage genuine representatives of the Chechens for a lasting peace.  The former KGB sleuth should seriously look for an exit strategy to save his nation’s honor."


"Chechens Deserve More Than 'Payback'"


The expatriate-oriented English-language Gulf News held (5/10):  "Barely had the dust and smoke settled on the Chechen stadium blast than Russian president Vladimir Putin was talking ominously about 'payback.'  The debris littering the roads of the Chechen capital Grozny, the twisted broken buildings, the squalor that many Chechens are reduced to living in, bears adequate and damning testimony to the discredited politics of payback.  A solution to the Chechen situation is not something that can be dreamed up overnight but neither is it beyond the capability of Moscow. There is nothing in the Chechen problem that has not in some shape or form manifested itself in Northern Ireland or South Africa, both countries where a progressive political settlement has dramatically reduced if not extinguished the politics of hate.  The onus here is on Moscow to show political leadership. Guerrilla warfare with hit and run tactics can only go so far and payback, as we have seen, will guarantee nothing except rubble on the streets.  Putin has just started his second term and would be wise to drop the tough man stance he adopted so forcefully during his first four years. Russia deserves more than a president who plays to a domestic audience by targeting the Chechens."




AUSTRALIA:  "Chechnya After An Assassination"


The liberal Sydney Morning Herald stated (5/11):  "The explosion which killed the Chechen President, Akhmad Kadyrov, has torn a gaping hole in Russia's strategy to end the independence struggle in Chechnya.  The assassination of his protégé is a direct challenge to the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, who has sought to characterize the Chechen conflict as Moscow's front-line in the global 'war on terror'....  As Mr. Putin's hand-picked proxy, Mr. Kadyrov was the symbol of Moscow's authority and the man Moscow was counting on to keep Chechnya within the Russian Federation.  His death in the bombing of a Gronzy stadium at the weekend mocks Mr. Putin's repeated claims of victory in his hardline pacification campaign....  However too simplistic a military response to violence motivated by deep-seated territorial grievances risks concealing the causes of, and possible solutions to, conflict....  A third full-scale war in a decade would be disastrous for Chechnya and Russia.  Ultimately Mr. Putin must concede there is no military solution.  A return to political negotiations is the only way forward.”


JAPAN:   "End Must Come To Confrontation Of Hatred"


Liberal Mainichi editorialized (5/12):  "President Putin expressed has strong anger toward the assassination of Chechen President Kadyrov and uttered the word 'retribution'--a de-facto declaration of war against Chechen guerrillas. But, the use of force alone will not resolve the Chechen problem. It is now time for Russia to give up its 19th century policy of using high-handed tactics to crack down on minorities. It should adopt a new vision for the 21st century.  A toughened approach by Russia in controlling rebellious minorities is likely to encourage the nation's 'militarization'--a prospect that would discourage foreign investment in Russia and derail Putin's stated agenda of creating a free and economically strong Russia....  Unless the vicious cycle of hatred is broken, Chechnya will not become a safe and independent republic."  


"Loss Of Pro-Moscow Leader Strengthens Hardliners"


Moscow correspondent Yokomura observed in liberal Asahi (5/11):  "Following the assassination of Chechen President Kadyrov, hardliners in the Kremlin have begun calling for a high-handed approach to contain Chechen armed guerrillas.  If President Putin adopts a tough crackdown on rebels, it is bound to trigger a strong reaction from the international community.  However, a softer approach may encourage further acts of terrorism and consequently undermine his political agenda of achieving a stable and prosperous Russia.  With his top aides now openly demanding tougher actions in Chechnya, President Putin is being forced to review his policy of granting greater autonomy to a pro-Moscow government in Groznyy."


"Putin Strategy Is In Deadlock"


Conservative Yomiuri said (5/10):  "Because the assassination occurred on Russia's most celebrated day marking its victory over Germany in World War II, it should be interpreted as a terrorist act to slap President Putin in the face....  The Russian leader has tried to 'localize' the Chechen conflict by installing a Chechen-led puppet regime to pit it against local guerrillas... With no prominent local politicians in sight to replace Kadyrov and comments by top aides to President Putin that Chechnya should be placed under the direct control of the Kremlin, it seems Putin's 'localization' strategy in Chechnya is going nowhere." 


"Putin Government Suffers Setback"


Moscow correspondent Yokomura wrote in liberal Asahi  (5/10):  "The murder of President Kadyrov has incapacitated the Chechen government and dealt a heavy blow to Russian President Putin, who has just started his second term.  The bomb attack took place only a few days after Putin, in his second inauguration speech, presented a brighter outlook for a 'prosperous and stable Russia' by declaring that 'the Russian people are united and free from the threats of terrorism.'  The assassination was a violent reaction to Putin's high-handed tactics to crack down on Chechen militias during his first term.  The lingering problem of Chechnya will continue to haunt the Russian government."


INDIA:  "Grozny Outrage" 


The pro-BJP right-of-center Pioneer contended (5/11):  "The explosion in newly-built Dynamo stadium in Grozny, which killed Akhmad Kadyrov, President of Chechnya...administers a major blow to Russian President Vladimir Putin's efforts to stamp out the secessionist movement in the region which, crushed militarily, continues to resort to terrorist strikes....  [It] underlines the difficulty that Putin will face in retaining the momentum that the political offensive against the rebels--an integral and critical part of the campaign against them--had achieved until the occurrence of Sunday's criminal outrage....  Sunday's explosion once again underlines the fact that the Al Qaeda and its affiliated terrorist outfits, which support and sustain Chechen rebels, retain their ability to strike....  Clearly, there is an urgent need to launch a concerted international effort to smash the organization....  The focal point of this effort must be the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan....  Pakistan is only going through the motions of the operations to ward off pressure from the U.S. to do more in the region.  Whether this is because President Musharraf is unable to control the pro-Al Qaeda elements in Pakistan's military and intelligence establishments or whether he himself is avoiding taking firm action which might alienate fundamentalist Islamists in his country, remains to be seen. Whatever it is, all countries fighting terrorism need to pressure Pakistan to act and stand by Russia in its continuing fight against Chechen terrorism."




CANADA:  "Mr. Kadyrov's End"


The leading Globe and Mail editorialized (5/11):  "The bomb blast that felled Chechnya's President, Akhmad Kadyrov, on Sunday ripped apart the Kremlin's carefully plotted strategy for bringing stability to the war-ravaged province. It was a cynical strategy that had nothing to do with the aspirations of Chechens and everything to do with Russian President Vladimir Putin's determination to impose order....  Even with the hand-picked Mr. Kadyrov in charge, there had been precious little 'normalization,' to use the Kremlin's description of its goal. Mr. Kadyrov, Chechnya's former spiritual leader, ran a ruthless, centralized regime....  Many...abuses have been traced to a militia force led by Mr. Kadyrov's son, Ramzan Kadyrov....  The younger Mr. Kadyrov has been named deputy leader of Chechnya, signaling Mr. Putin's desire to continue relying on strongman rule. Plans to hold elections for a new parliament had already been postponed and will now likely be put off indefinitely.  Russia's allies in the West would prefer to believe that the country has turned the page permanently on its repressive past, when brute force and fear were the main weapons used to hold together a shaky empire. But those weapons have been on full display in Chechnya since Mr. Putin first came to power promising a quick end to the crisis.  The Russian President has kept the U.S. Bush administration on side by depicting the military crackdown as a fight against Islamic terrorists. He has kept the Russian people largely on side by telling them the war is over and by greatly restricting media access....  Now Mr. Putin faces the prospect of heightened violence on both sides and the possibility that he will have to impose direct rule from Moscow. It's a mess of his own making and one he might have avoided by negotiating with Chechen moderates when the latter still had a say in the outcome."


"No Good Guys"


The centrist Winnipeg Free Press maintained (5/11):  "Expressions of outrage, sympathy and support have poured in to Moscow from the international community, from Europe and North America. And what happened in Grozny was terrible, a reminder of how vulnerable even the most powerful and best protected among us are to Islamist terrorists. Expressions of sympathy and support for Mr. Putin, however, should be accompanied by the exhortation to do something besides kill Chechens--the Chechens do that quite effectively themselves. Chechen rebels once had great international sympathy. Chechen terrorists squandered that with their attacks on civilians in Moscow and elsewhere. That sympathy has largely been transferred to Mr. Putin now. But until he understands that neither he nor his Chechen puppets can restore order in Chechnya through the cannon of a tank, the West must understand that there are no good guys in Grozny--neither Mr. Putin nor the fanatics he faces."   


ARGENTINA:  "Chechnya:  An Attack That Forces Russia To Rethink Its Strategy"


Paula Lugones remarked in leading Clarin (5/10):  "Kadyrov represented so much for Putin that his assassination forces the Russian President to reconsider his strategy for the region. For now, in the eyes of the Kremlin, there's no reliable successor....  The war in Chechnya is Putin's maximum nightmare...(because) he was unable to eradicate the secessionist rebels....  Due to its complexity, dark horizon and oil interests at stake, the conflict may be considered as Putin's Iraq....  Kadyrov's murder now poses a dilemma for Putin. There are some who demand a strong hand and the establishment of direct (and Russian-led) presidential government in order to 'control' the situation. The problem is that, clearly, such policy so far has failed. This is precisely what Putin had tried to avoid with Kadyrov. Everything seems to be at a dead end."




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