May 13, 2004
ASSASSINATION: PUTIN MUST SEEK A
'SOLUTION VIA NEGOTIATIONS'
** President Kadyrov's
"humiliating" death shows Putin's Chechen concept "failed
** Putin cannot end the
conflict "without political negotiations."
** Liberal papers reject
equating the Chechen conflict with the "fight against Islamic
** 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
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
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
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
"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
"Fiasco Of Kremlin's Policy"
Yulia Kalinina opined in reformist youth-oriented Moskovskiy
"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.'"
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
"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
"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
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
"For Russia’s Putin, Chechnya Is A War That Doesn’t
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."
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
"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."
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
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
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
“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
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."
"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.”
“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
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."
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 Mufti...in 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
UAE: "The Russian
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."
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
"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
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
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."
"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."