September 1, 2004
CHECHNYA: MOSCOW SHOULD 'SERIOUSLY EXPLORE'
** Chechen rebels are
undertaking a strategy of "calculated mayhem against civilians."
** Russia "must
negotiate" with rebels to stop its "exceptionally dirty
** Writers dismiss
Chechnya's "faked election" and term winner Alkhanov a "Kremlin
** Critics charge that
Europe has "turned away from the Caucasus."
A 'shocking wave of attacks'-- Chechen rebels "have proven they can hit
just about anywhere" since it is "clear that terrorism was
involved" in the dual plane crash, the subway attack and southern Russia's
hostage crisis. Russia's
business-oriented Kommersant judged that "only Chechen
militants" with "ties to al-Qaida" can undertake acts like
these. "Putin's Russia seems very
shaky" in light of the "graphic evidence of serious faults in
combating terror," concluded papers that criticized the "Kremlin's
helplessness" and "incompetent, indiscriminate army." Writers excoriated Putin for "trying to
suggest different reasons" for the plane tragedy; Prague's center-right Lidove
noviny assailed Moscow's "blatant disinformation."
'Putin's reconciliation strategy is a joke'-- Conservative observers declared that Chechen
"terrorists and assassins" must be "ruthlessly eliminated,"
but most outlets viewed Putin's "hard-line strategy" as
Norway's Aftenposten advised Moscow to use "more political
sagacity, and fewer tanks and cannons, to come up with a solution." German papers backed "new and serious
political efforts" because Moscow "must negotiate with those who
carry weapons: the Chechen rebels" to achieve peace. Qatar's semi-official Gulf Times
agreed that both Chechens and Russians would "benefit if the conflict
could come to an end through common sense and diplomacy."
Alkhanov 'cannot hope to embrace legitimacy and authority'-- No "puppet regime" can address Chechen
anger, warned dailies that saw the Chechen presidential election as an
"electoral scam" whose outcome was "known to all in
advance." A "little-known
figure without a strong power base," President-elect Alkhanov is
"lacking in charisma and political skills" according to Japan's
liberal Asahi. Russia's reformist
Vremya Novostey said he was "received with irony by most
Chechens." Even Russia's official Rossiyskaya
Gazeta refused to call the election "perfectly democratic," while
non-Russian editorialists used words such as "mischievous forgery,"
"absurd," and "tainted."
Global 'indifference' to 'Moscow's oppression'-- German dailies blasted the "three-way
summit" of PM Chirac, PM Schroeder and Putin as "morally
questionable" in light of the Chechen conflict. Berlin's leftist die tageszeitung
labeled Europe "partly responsible" because it "keeps quiet
about the tragedy" Russia is committing.
Other German papers dubbed Schroeder "unscrupulous" and
demanded he be "brave enough" to admit that Putin's "Chechen
policy has failed." Poland's
liberal Gazeta Wyborcza viewed Chirac and Schroeder's refusal to
"address the electoral farce" in Chechnya as a "moral defeat for
Prepared by Media Reaction Branch (202) 203-7888,
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. Some commentary is taken directly from the
Internet. 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 70 reports from 20 countries over 26 August - 1 September
2004. Editorial excerpts are listed from
the most recent date.
RUSSIA: "Faults In War
Reformist Gazeta charged (9/1): "Yesterday's events are graphic evidence
of serious faults in combating terror....
How many more victims will it take for the authorities to finally admit and
learn from the fact that the current methods of fighting terrorism are absolutely
ineffective? In just one week 100
people got killed and 60 were injured....
Special services have no reliable informed sources. To have such sources of information, that is,
to be able to prevent terrorist acts is one of the principal goals of law-enforcement
agencies.... As terrorist acts more
often than not take weeks of careful preparations, special services have yet to
learn to stave them off."
"Troika? What Troika?"
Yuliya Petrovskaya and Yevgeniy Grigoryev wrote in centrist Nezavisimaya
Gazeta (9/1): "Public opinion
in France and Germany has been known to disapprove of the Kremlin's policy in
the North Caucasus. That being so,
Schroeder and Chirac are trying not to focus on that issue. The fact that the three leaders met right
after the presidential elections in Chechnya drew much attention in the
European media. The prevailing tone of
commentaries there is critical.... The
Big European Troika originated from the three countries non-accepting the U.S.'
Iraq policy. Atlanticists have termed it
a Paris-Berlin-Moscow axis pursing anti-American aims. It is no alliance, of course. But the three leaders tried to show that
their cooperation was not limited to Iraq alone."
Business-oriented Vedomosti observed (9/1): "As the U.S. and the EU reacted
negatively to the (Chechnya) election, Putin had Chirac and Schroeder sweeten
the bitter pill with their loyal statements....
It so happens that many people abroad take interest in Chechnya's future. The new Chechen leader should gain prestige
in the West. So far, he has not been in
good graces there. But then, Alkhanov
has a chance to repair the situation by calling general elections soon. Without parliament, the President's power is
"Chechens Vote For Putin's Choice"
Sergey Markov wrote in official government-run Rossiyskaya
Gazeta (8/31): "On the one
hand, you wouldn't call those elections perfectly democratic, of course. On the other hand, most Chechens consciously
voted for Alu Alkhanov. They needed that
poll to be able to call truly democratic elections a decade from now. Why Alu Alkhanov? For one thing, Chechens would have voted for
anyone recommended by Vladimir Putin, as they pin their hopes on his firm and
consistent policies, be it fighting terrorists or restoring political power and
the economy. For another, Alu Alkhanov
is part of the late President Akhmat Kadyrov's team."
"The Choice Surprises No One"
Ivan Sukhov said in reformist Vremya Novostey (8/31):
"The vote outcome in Chechnya has surprised no one. The winner's name had been known several
months before the local election commission announced it. Though it has been received with irony by
most Chechens, Alkhanov's 73 odd percent of the vote are irrefutable proof of
the late President finally getting a lawful successor."
"New President To Rely On Moscow"
Vladimir Mukhin stated in centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta
(8/31): "When it comes to the Chechen elections, the official opinion
differs from that of independent politicians.... Without a doubt, President Alu Alkhanov will
work to bring order to the land. In
that, he, understandably, will rely on power structures and the federal
government, which made sure that he win the top post."
Olga Romanova held in business-oriented Vedomosti
(8/31): "The Chechen elections were
a big success. In Russia, a big success
is an event which, called historic, is of no interest to anyone. As they happen, major historic events are
under strict control, and their outcome is known to all in advance. Any election in Russia tends to copy the
Putin election.... Chechnya, now that it
has the President, will have a chance to get to know him better. In the meantime we have been told that
everything is going to be fine now. I
Vladimir Mokhov noted in centrist army-run Krasnaya Zvezda
(8/31): "Under the circumstances,
Alkhanov, a favorite with Moscow and many of his fellow countrymen, is the only
candidate who can rally the fragmented society. As they voted for Alkhanov, Chechens saw him
as a man who can get the republic out of a deep crisis and do whatever it takes
to restore the economy and normal life."
"Popular Choice Is An Easy Guess"
Centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta said
(8/30): "It was an easy guess whom
the electorate picked. There were a lot
of posters with the pictire of Alu Alkhanov across the city.... There must have been the pictures of other
candidates as well. But you couldn't see
them--all had been torn down or painted over."
"West Unmoved By Air Tragedy"
Artur Blinov wrote in centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta
(8/30): "After last week's
terrorist acts in Russia, the White House has reviewed aviation security. Henceforth all Russian planes flying over
U.S. territory will have an escort of jet fighters.... The U.S. President George Bush has ordered
U.S. warplanes to shoot down any aircraft captured by terrorists if there is
reason to believe that it may be used in an attack on a U.S. target. In other words, the U.S. authorities believe
that terrorists may use Russian airliners to fly to the U.S.... Remarkably, what extra security measures
foreign airlines have taken have not been coordinated with the Russian
authorities. It is as if each country is
trying to ensure aviation security by itself, not caring about what Russia is
doing in that area.... There is a
striking difference between the way the U.S. authorities were treated after
September 11, 2001, and the way the Russian authorities are being treated after
a similar tragedy now. It is not that
people in the West reject Russian explanations.
They make their own conjectures, not counting on Moscow to provide
adequate answers. It may be incredulity
the West has always felt for the East, particularly now in view of a
complicated situation in Russia. While
the West acting on its own in media coverage seems understandable, the
one-sided character of the security measures our foreign partners have taken
stuns, indeed. They, so it seems, do
not intend to heed what Russia has been doing urgently to enhance aviation
security. This in spite of an
established system of cooperation in the global war on terror. Russia is part of international agreements
on aviation security. A failure to
follow the accepted scheme and mistrust, besides being wasteful, reduce the
efficacy of measures already taken."
"Terrorist Attacks After All"
Business-oriented Vedomosti asserted (8/30): "The two planes which crashed last week
were blown up. The Russian authorities finally admitted that officially on Friday.... A source in the Federal Security Service
explains that with the existing security system at airports explosives could
have got on the plane in luggage.... The
source believes that, for an explosion to cause a plane to fall apart in the
air, 'half a kilo of modern plastic explosive would have been enough",
while hexogen could have been used by terrorists 'to reinforce the effect from
"Sentenced To Victory"
Ivan Yegorov noted in reformist Gazeta (8/30): "Chechnya has a new president. Police
Maj-Gen Alu Alkhanov has won the election in the republic Yesterday, the
militants sentenced the new president to death, which has already become a
"Terror Is The Chief Danger"
Vladimir Demchenko and Roman Kirillov contended in reformist Izvestiya
(8/27): "The press center of the
Federal Security Service having hurried to brush aside a terrorist act as a
cause led many to believe that special services, for no apparent reason, were
holding back on that information. Their
statements don't tally with measures being taken to tighten security at all
airports and the President's order to place security there under the Interior
Ministry's control. All that points to
the authorities seeing terror as the chief danger."
"Individual Safety As State's Chief Task"
Semyon Novoprudskiy maintained in reformist Vremya Novostey
(8/26): "The worst part of what
happened yesterday is that establishing a cause, be it terrorism or a technical
malfunction, won't change anything. We
won't be surprised to find out that the aircraft may have crashed because of
the tear and wear of the equipment or because of a terrorist attack. In present-day Russia, both scenarios are not
only plausible but also real and even trivial.... The chief obligation of any state is to
ensure safety for every citizen as best it can.
Today we don't feel safe in spite of increased expenditures for security
agencies, the emergence of new special services, and tough statements by
defense and security officials. Nor do
we know what exactly the government is doing to protect us. We get blasted in the subway, sport arenas,
our homes, and on commuter trains. And
as we do, the authorities take action and carry out an investigation to find
and convict those who are guilty of the attacks. But all that does not stop the deadly
process, with terror following its own logic."
"It's The Chechens.
Business-oriented Kommersant charged (8/26): "With the Chechen elections round the
corner, the authorities won't acknowledge that which is obvious: only Chechen militants can stage terrorist
acts of such magnitude."
"Radical Reform Is Needed"
Reformist Izvestiya argued (8/26): "The chief problem is that this
country's security system needs overhaul.
The trouble is that the authorities are not ready to implement reform,
while the public is not ready to demand that they do it. More precisely speaking, the authorities are
not ready because the public is not ready."
"A Link To Chechnya"
Reformist, youth-oriented Moskovskiy
Komsomolets contended (8/26):
"Practically none of our informed intelligence sources has any
doubt that the double air disaster was a carefully planned act of terror rather
than a tragic coincidence.... And they
are all inclined to believe that there is a link with this Sunday's
presidential elections in Chechnya."
"Russia's Tired Wings"
Centrist army-run Krasnaya Zvezda
concluded (8/26): "Shortcomings in
Russia's airline sector could be to blame....
Although experts are not ruling out the aircraft crashing as a result of
terrorist actions, the known condition of the Russian aircraft fleet, and the
country's aircraft industry as a whole, does not, unfortunately, rule out a
continuation of the mournful list of air tragedies."
BRITAIN: "War Without
The left-of-center Guardian contended
(8/30): "Everything that could
possibly have been tried in Chechnya has been. It has been invaded and the
capital Groznyy retaken, twice. It has been allowed to exist as a de facto
independent state. It has been ruled directly from Moscow. Three of the last
four Chechens to hold the title of president have been assassinated--two by the
Russians, and one by Chechen rebels--and the fourth is in hiding. The rebel
movement has been split and turned against itself. Russian forces have used
collective punishment, summary execution, torture, rape, kidnap, extortion and
terror to pacify a brutalised population, and nothing works. Chechnya has been
conscripted into George Bush's war on terror, and the west has been silent. But
however many times the war has been declared over by Moscow, it plainly
isn't. Yesterday another election was
staged and a fifth president, Alu Alkhanov, installed.... Alkhanov will only provide temporary relief
to Russian president Vladimir Putin. The clan Moscow has backed, armed Chechens
loyal to Ramzan Kadyrov, the 27-year-old son of the last president, are corrupt
thugs incapable of providing war-weary Chechens with the law and order they
crave.... Without sacrificing its claims
to sovereignty over a small mountain land, Russia is surely capable of devising
a strategy which does not involve another decade of murder and terror. It would
involve identifying authoritative Chechen leaders with whom to negotiate a
ceasefire, and being prepared to invite in international organisations like the
OSCE to help provide security. Chechnya did not start as a land filled with
Russian-hating Muslim jihadists. It attached itself to Al-Qa'ida's wagon, not
simply because the Wahhabis had more money than the more moderate arm of
Chechen separatism, but also because of the brutal tactics Russia
Stefan Kornelius commented in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung
of Munich (9/1): "When the state
leaders of France, Russia and Germany meet a touch of yesterday is in the
air. Putin, Chirac, and Schroeder are an
alliance of rejecters--not just in respect of Iraq. But they are not really pulling anything
off.... Schroeder discredited himself by
calling the Chechen election acceptable.
This statement is unfounded.... When
Chirac joins them, the trio always conveys the same message: The declined superpower and the two European
powers could achieve what they strive for.
But what do they want?.... Until
today, these politicians have not passed the state of protest. Of course, Russia must be brought up towards
an enlarged EU.... All this has one
reason: uneasiness about the U.S. and
George Bush's foreign policy. As long as
the relations with America are unclear, such three-way summits will not turn
into reasonable policy."
Richard Meng opined in left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau
(9/1): "Gerhard Schroeder has not
done a good job for Germany at the three-way summit with Putin and Chirac. Two days after the puppet election in
Chechnya, which the EU and the Chancellor's party described as unfair and
undemocratic, Schroeder maintained harmony with Putin. Maybe he has criticized Russia's policy
behind closed doors, as his aides say.
But by his reassuring statement, he stabs all those in the back who
criticize the election and expect clarity from political representatives. Schroeder allows Putin to use him. There are certainly reasons for seeking good
relations with Moscow: energy policy, European policy, and creating peace in
Kabul, Baghdad and Kosovo. This requires
a lot of cooperation and trust, but it cannot be build upon silence. It's time that the Chancellor becomes brave
enough for the truth: Putin's Chechen
policy has failed."
"Two Hearts For Putin"
Business-oriented Financial Times Deutschland of Hamburg
(9/1): "Germans and French policy
towards Russia is not just unscrupulous, but it is also bad for a common
European foreign policy. What the two
leaders regularly demand in regard of the U.S.--to establish a strong
Europe--does not apply to Russia. The
eastern EU countries, the Netherlands and Britain are skeptical about the
special relationship with Russia. Poland
and the Baltic states--who share a long history with Russia--have warned Europe
against flattering Moscow. The Dutch EU
presidency called upon Putin to create peace in Chechnya. But how should the Russian President take the
EU seriously if the two biggest members immediately declare him
Markus Wehner commented in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine
(8/31): "Putin managed to hush
international criticism of his Chechen policy by pushing separatists into the
corner of Islamist murderers. But this
victory is turning against Russia, as the recent terror attack on airplanes
shows. For years, Russia has been
failing to cope with a few thousand rebels. The country will struggle even more
to deal with a few hundred of suicide warriors.
Putin might be able to install a president in Chechnya, but he will fail
to protect his life. By bloody attacks,
rebels have recently demonstrated the Kremlin's helplessness, a government that
has deployed tens of thousands of troops in the northern Caucasus. More soldiers and police officers will not
help in a country, where to many people talk of patriotism while working
against each other and wanting to make a lot of money."
"President Without Legitimacy"
Florian Hassel argued in left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau
(8/31): "There is no news from the
Caucasus. That is the result of the
presidential elections in Chechnya. For
the third time, the Kremlin ignored the will of the people.... The means with which Alkhonov was enthroned
are faked lists of voters and hundred of thousands of forged voting
slips.... Free and fair elections are
impossible in war zones. That is one
reason why such an election would have been ill starred even under more normal
circumstances. The mischievous forgery
means that Alkhonov will lack any legitimacy, like his predecessor. But only a legitimate president might be able
to break up the vicious circle of terror and counter-terror. If you want to end the war you must negotiate
with those who carry weapons: the Chechen rebels."
Klaus-Helge Donath wrote in leftist die tageszeitung of
Berlin (8/31): "They are
manipulating elections like in the former Soviet Union.... Russia under Vladimir Putin is neither a
grown dictatorship nor a totalitarian regime.
There are neither gulags nor is there an inhuman ideology, but the
political elite shares a contemptuous cynicism, which contains no political
visions but is only striving for power and taking advantages. This cynicism unites Russians, Chechens and
all sorts of minorities in the Caucasus.
There are no moral principles, but only ethnic nihilism. That is Russia's curse. After the collapse of communism, Moscow has
never been further away from the civilized world than today. By sheer murder, Russia launched Islamic
fundamentalism in the Caucasus--Chechen Sufism had little to do with Arab
extremism. And Europe is partly
responsible because it keeps quiet about the tragedy. As a result, Europe itself might become a
battlefield for Chechen terrorists."
Jacques Schuster opined in right-of-center Die Welt of
Berlin (8/31): "Vladimir Putin has
made his choice, and Chechens went to the ballots.... That is not the way to establish peace. Quite the opposite!.... A day after the election in Chechnya,
Chancellor Schroeder and President Chirac will meet Putin at his summer
residence. They will do what they have
been doing during the recent German-Russian-Franco summits: They will laugh a lot and be happy, toying
with de Gaulles's idea of a European counterweight to the U.S. The will hardly deal with the problem of
Chechnya. German and French politicians
are still dreaming of an equal partnership with Washington, which they want to
reach through the Russian back door.
They don't care that this new triumvirate is morally questionable. It would be desirable if Chancellor Schroeder
found words as clear as those used for the real ally America. We will probably wait in vain."
Markus Ziener held in business-oriented Handelsblatt of
Duesseldorf (8/31): "Kadyrov's
results as Chechen President were poor, but Putin could not bring himself to
make the necessary personnel and policy changes. He is even to blame for excluding Alkhanov's
only serious rival candidate in the run-up to the elections. Chechens therefore did not have a
choice. Given this, it is clear why
Moscow's authorities were so irritated about the crashes of two planes. By bombing the two planes, Chechen rebels did
not only show their enduring determination to fight the Russian occupation, but
also dashed the hopes of progress in Chechnya.... The head of the Kremlin has been arguing for
a long time that the Chechen war is an international conflict, which is also
used by Islamist groups. That is not wrong,
because terrorists from the Middle East are using Chechnya as a battlefield. That was different in the past, but it is
true today. Given that this is an
international conflict, the international community has the right and duty to
develop strategies to solve the conflict.
But Putin denies this; he vehemently rejects any interference in
Moscow's backyard. Putin uses only the
part of the anti-terror doctrine that exposes him as a brave warrior against
Islamists. But he does not act on
Business-oriented Financial Times Deutschland of Hamburg
editorialized (8/30): "The Russian
policy against the despicable Chechen terror looks increasingly harmless and
counterproductive. Military vigor alone
will not defeat suicide assassins from the Caucasus. The 'Black Widows,' who bombed the Russian
airplanes, understand themselves as avengers for the death of their male
relatives. New and serious political
efforts to solve the Chechen conflict might be able to avert a bloody
international escalation. Chechen
terrorists have started to cooperate closely with al Qaida Islamists, but they
are less driven by bin Laden's ideology.
They are mainly fighting against the hated Russian power. Such a conflict can be solved politically,
but Putin's reconciliation strategy in Chechnya is a joke. The elections on Sunday were so obviously
irregular that the OSCE did not even bother sending observers there."
"Master Of Self-Deception"
Matthias Dobrinski noted in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung
of Munich (8/30): "Russia's
President Putin is a master of deception and self-deception. The election in Chechnya is a typical example
for it.... The idea that Chechens would
vote for a Kremlin puppet in free and fair elections in Chechnya is absurd. The new man in Grozny cannot hope to embrace
legitimacy and authority--and will therefore not be able to help
Markus Wehner commented in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine
(8/28): "Russia is far away from
being a totalitarian regime, but neither is it an effective democracy. The recent spate of terrorist attacks made
that clear. The rights of the police
and intelligence are strengthened after every attack...but these institutions
have failed again and again, are corrupt or work against each other. There is no parliamentary control of the
intelligence services and other forces.
On the contrary, those who stick their nose into this business risk to
be charged as traitor. Russians react
fatalistically to these attacks. They
have got used to terrorism and that young Russian and Chechens die in Chechnya. The festering wound of the Caucasus is
spreading more hatred and revenge every day, but there is no discussion how to
cure it. The faked election on Sunday
will not change this."
Jacques Schuster wrote in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin
(8/28): "Putin still believes in a
Trojan Horse, hoping that a puppet regime could solve the Chechen
conflict. More people will fall victim
to this misconception. The passengers of
the two crashed airplanes will not be the last victims. Their death cannot be justified at all -
there are terrorists in Chechnya who must be defeated--but the conflict will
only be solved when Moscow changes its policy.
Putin empowers those Chechens who stand by him faithfully. Everybody else is called a terrorist. This is supposed to discredit their
legitimate claims, distract the world's attention from the real problems and
justify the Russian violence."
"Crash In An Election Week"
Center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich opined
(8/26): "For the relatives of the
victims, the reason of the crash will not play a major role, but for President
Putin this is different.... Two clearly targeted
attacks on the sensitive air traffic would reveal a veritable weakness of the
powerful state leader, who ha always used pithy words against terrorists. With the presidential elections in Chechnya,
Moscow wanted to send a signal of a political new beginning, and calm and
non-violence would have been very important for this.... The strong Russian state, which Putin has
emphasized again and again, would have developed its effect before and after
the elections. But instead the crashes
recalled the memories that the fight against terror and supremacy in Chechnya
has not yet been decided. The specter of terror remains a writing on the wall
for Putin's government. This is bad news
for Putin…. But he must quickly do none
thing right now: The country expects him to show an open information policy,
but no confusing or tactical statements aiming at intensifying the fight
"Pilot Mistake--In Politics"
Claudia von Salzen wrote in centrist Der Tagesspiegel of
Berlin (8/26): "Attack or
accident? For the time being, there is
no certainty about the reasons for the two air crashes in southern Russia. But it is again a disaster that directs
German views to Russia and the almost forgotten conflict in the Caucasus. In Chechnya, an entire generation has grown
up that knows nothing but war. In this
generation without hope, terrorists are very popular. Many of them are willing to carry the
conflict to the Russian core country like in February with an attack on
Moscow's underground. In addition, the conflict
is threatening to spread to the neighboring republics and thus the entire
northern Caucasus with unforeseeable consequences. And the West?
Europe's governments have turned away from the Caucasus. The Russian president must hardly fear that
he has to accept unpleasant questions during state visits in Europe. But as long as Putin and with him Schroeder,
Berlusconi, and Chirac pretend that Chechnya is no problem, there will be no
real peace in the Caucasian republic."
Center-right General-Anzeiger of Bonn declared (8/26): "It is difficult not to think of a
terrorist act as the reason for the dual crash in southern Russia. The denials of Chechen rebel leader Makhadov
do not rule out such a link, since resistance in the Caucasian republic has
many facets. Earlier attacks that were
based on Chechen terror have never been fully investigated. Russian authorities are also trying to
suggest different reasons. But the ruler in the Kremlin could, a few days
before elections, have an interest in playing down the incidents. He is interested in creating the impression
that the situation on the path to a really political solution in Chechnya is
stabilizing, that a great majority rejects violence, and that the rebellion,
irrespective of numerous attacks, is under control."
Center-right Leipziger Volkszeitung editorialized
(8/26): "The suspicion that it was
a terrorist attack is obvious a few days before the Chechen elections that are
controlled by Russia. This is why the
denials from Moscow are all the more surprising. Of course, a pilot's mistake, technical
flaws, or bad airline fuel could also result in a crash. But nobody wants to believe that it was a
pure coincidence that happened two days before elections and hit two aircraft
at the same time. According to experts,
the dispersal of the debris indicates that an explosion occurred at great
height. This is why it is proper to
assume that the Kremlin likes to play down the suspicion of possible attacks,
because President Putin wants calm at the Chechen front. He wants to maintain the picture of an intact
world, even though it already has deep cracks."
ITALY: "A New Massacre
Vladimir Sapozhnikov stated in leading business-oriented Il
Sole-24 Ore (9/1): “Russia has
plunged, once again, into the tragedy of terrorism.... The issue of a joint struggle against
terrorism dominated the agenda of lightning talks between Vladimir Putin,
Gerhard Schroeder and Jacques Chirac (in Sochi). According to President Putin, there is a
direct link between Chechen separatists...and the al-Qaeda criminal network.... Meanwhile, Chirac and Schroeder correlate the
fight on international terrorism with a nuclear plan that Iran would be able to
implement thanks to Russia’s technical assistance. According to some U.S. experts, the reactors
of the nuclear plant, which are being fabricated by the Russians...in Southern
Iran, might be used by the regime of Ayatollahs to build a nuclear bomb. Putin tried to dispel all Western concerns.”
"The Game Of Puppets Hiding Inside This
Giulietto Chiesa noted in centrist, influential La
Stampa (9/1): “It is not only a
matter of Chechen terrorism. This
shocking wave of attacks, which rebels are conducting against Russia, has
finally revealed its political goal, which goes beyond the Chechen question as
well as the borders of the mangled nation (Chechnya). The target is Vladimir Putin himself and his
political fate.... And Putin, despite
all those pats on the back by his Western allies, is ever more becoming the
symbol of a Russian national power, which even Washington wholly dislikes.”
"Why Moscow Tells The Truth About Pupolevs, After Chechen
An editorial in elite liberal Il Foglio read (8/31): “It was rather predictable: one hour after
the ballots had closed in Chechnya, the Russian government recognized the truth
about the disaster involving both aircraft.
Everyone knew that terrorists had caused both explosions, but the
authorities had suggested plausible ‘hypothetical technical’ (causes); they
didn’t want to disturb the presidential elections. Voters could have decided to stay at home
fearing terrorist attacks...but also because the truth might have distracted
Chechen citizens’ attention from a goal...imposed by the Kremlin: Chechnya
(must) continue the course of Akhmad Kadirov (the former president killed last
May by Islamic supporters of Chechnya independence).... Everything was prepared to have Chechens
understand that Kadirov’s men had to triumph with the victory of Alu Alkhanov
at the top office.... Alkhanov was
elected, but the situation in Chechnya remains as it was before and a miserable
future is looming ahead for Kadirov’s successor.”
"Explosive Found In Remains Of Tupolevs"
Valdimir Sapozhnikov maintained in leading business-oriented Il
Sole-24 Ore (8/30): “Traces of
explosive were found in the remains of one of the two jets that crashed last
Tuesday. Terrorists claimed responsibility for the incidents. The Kremlin
cannot but acknowledge the dramatic truth: even in Russia international
terrorism, which is part of Islamic fundamentalism, has caused more bloodshed.
The ‘Islamic Brigades,’ part of the al-Qaeda network, organized the double
attack.... It was carried out to punish
Russia, who is responsible for the ongoing massacre of Muslims in Chechnya, and
represents the first act in a new war against Russian infidels.”
"The Kremlin’s Torments"
Sergio Romano stated in centrist, top-circulation Corriere
della Sera (8/30): “Grozny’s rebels
have proven that they can hit just about anywhere. They can blow up a building,
shoot down a helicopter, abduct 800 people sitting in a theater, spread terror
at a rock concert, attack Moscow’s subway or kill the Republic’s pro-Russian
president Akhmad Kadyrov, like they did in May, but they didn’t seem capable of
carrying out an Al Qaeda-style operation on jets.... The war against Chechen nationalism could
turn into a more insidious clash against groups who are more or less tied to Al
"Chechnya Is The New Setting For Terrorism"
Massimo Introvigne commented in pro-government, leading
center-right Il Giornale (8/26):
“The chances that two airliners taking off from Moscow’s airport crashed
within minutes of each other for technical reasons are practically zero. It was
a terrorist act tied to the upcoming Chechen elections, but of Al Qaeda origin:
the independent Chechen groups don’t have the technical capability or expertise
to carry out this type of operation....
A substantial faction of Chechen independence has tied itself to Al
Qaeda. In accordance with Al Qaeda’s style, it no longer only strikes Russian
soldiers, but it blows up planes filled with innocent civilians or kills
peaceful people in Moscow’s theatres. Those who carry out these types of acts
in the name of the Chechen cause are not part of any ‘resistance,’ but are
simply terrorists and assassins, very much like the Iraqi decapitators and the
Palestinian Hamas movement that launches missiles on pre-schools. There is no
reasoning with terrorists. They must be ruthlessly eliminated through military
and police efforts. Experience teaches that dialogue and sensible political
solutions can be reached only after implementing repressive methods. George
Bush and Silvio Berlusconi were criticized by the European left wing and
anti-Americanism for saying that Putin was right to use an iron fist with the
Chechen terrorists. Undoubtedly the velvet glove of politics must follow suit.
But for the time being, while jets blow up, Bush and Berlusconi are right.”
“Blood On Grozny’s Vote”
Sandro Viola held in left-leaning, influential La Repubblica
(8/26): “The hypothesis that suicide
bombers caused the crash of two jets departing from Moscow seems very
plausible.... In any case, doubts
surrounding this incident serve to refocus attention on this small republic--on
the tragedy that has been unfolding there over the last five years, on the
destruction of cities and villages, on the thousands of deaths.... Sunday’s presidential elections will be
another electoral scam. There are no doubts regarding the outcome of the vote.
The new president will be the current Internal Minister Alu Alkhanov,
designated by Putin.... This means that
nothing will change in Chechnya.... If
terrorists were not behind the plane crashes, then we must draw conclusions
regarding military inefficiency, poorly trained recruits, corruption...and the
weaknesses of the secret service that allow a few combatants to gain such a
hold of their territory.... Putin’s
Russia seems very shaky.”
"The Weak Link Of Security"
Anna Zafesova noted in centrist, influential La Stampa
(8/26): “We still don’t have the details
on the two Tupolev jets that crashed in the Russian countryside Tuesday, but
what will undoubtedly emerge is that someone or something got on board because
security agents looked the other way, either spontaneously distracted or
induced by a cash payment.... The police
force, which is the principal instrument for defending potential victims from
terrorism, is the weak link in Russia’s security system.”
Markus Bernath opined in liberal Der Standard (8/30): “No election will stabilize the situation in
the Caucasian Republic as long as the Russian army and the militia they support
lead the Chechens. It was the Russian
army’s unbelievable brutality that carried the resistance into all the families
and led young female Chechens to engage in terrorist acts. It was Putin’s
crusade against Chechnya in fall 1999 that decidedly strengthened Chechen
separatism. This is what the two fighters against terror, Putin and Bush, have
in common: with the war against Chechnya
and Iraq respectively, they brought the al-Qaida terror network into their own
countries. The prospects for the Russians are devastating should it turn out
that internationally active Islamic groups actually supported the attack of
Chechen extremists on the Tupolev planes.
Russia is full of poorly secured potential terror targets and the lives
of individual citizens--as was demonstrated during the hostage ‘liberation’
action in the Musical Theater in Moscow in October 2002 – does not count for
much with the government.”
"The Kremlin Boss And His Play On
Christoph Winder observed in centrist Die
Presse (8/30): “Fear does not
pervade in the rebel hideouts in the Chechen mountains, it pervades in the big
cities of Russia. The fear is of falling victim to a terrorist attack--in the
underground, in a theater, on a plane. Putin has recklessly played on the
people’s fear to increase his power....
Now it is just this fear that threatens to erode the Kremlin boss’s
power base. Distrust is spreading throughout the country. Why didn’t anybody
admit that the two plane crashes were the result of terror? Why did it once
again take so long to tell the bereaved what fate their relatives had
suffered--just like when the nuclear submarine Kursk sank four years ago. Putin
had promised to pacify the Caucasus and to end the terror. This strategy has
failed. More and more Russians perceive that more clearly--especially now that
the presidential elections in Chechnya are drawing near.”
Mia Doornaert asserted in independent
Christian-Democrat De Standaard (8/26):
"Not for nothing did virtually everybody think about Chechnya after
two (Russian) jets crashed almost simultaneously. Under Putin, Russia is waging an exceptionally
dirty war against that people in the Caucasus.
Cities and villages are bombed to ruins, the atrocities of Russian
soldiers against the civilian population are frequently denounced by
international NGOs like Human Rights Watch....
But, Putin cannot only count on the support of many Russians but also on
a lot of understanding from the outside world.
There is an immense gap between the concern about, for instance, the
Palestinians and the indifference vis-à-vis a Muslim people in the Caucasus
that is being bombed back to the Stone Age.
There are no motions in the UNSC or the UNGA, no urgent demands to start
a dialogue with the Chechnyans, no threats with economic or other
sanctions. Chechnya is certainly not the
only area where Putin's actions have little to do with dialogue and humane
initiatives. The closing of critical
media organizations and the arrest of Yukos oil tycoon Michail Chodorkovski in
October last year show that the Russian President does not accept
counterforces. Officially, Chodorkovski
is in jail for fraud and tax evasion. In
reality, his lawyers say and many Russians believe, he is in jail because he
was not sufficiently obedient to Putin and because the latter distrusted the
oil tycoon's political ambitions. Russia
has such enormous problems with democratization that one has the impression
that the choice in that immense country is limited to either a despot or an
enlightened despot. Putin belongs to the
second category. The outside world
accepts that. The EU--which likes to
boast with its moral principles--is strongly against small despots, but it
spares the great despots."
"Season Of Catastrophes"
Pavel Masa commented in center-right Lidove Noviny
(8/28): "The Russian press called
the catastrophe [of the two exploded planes] Russia's 9/11. However, even if we omit the number of
casualties, the important difference between the American and the Russian 9/11
is in the reaction of the public and the government to the act of terror. The U.S. went through a shock in 2001, and
fight against terrorism became a topic no. 1.
The Russian airports show the business-as-usual picture, and the Russian
media report that August and September represent a season of catastrophes. This frame of Russian mind could have a
positive effect, if it was not for the fact that the attackers, Chechnyans or
their allies, seek more to shock the international public than the
Russians. Putin may be sincere about his
peace plan for Chechnya, but even that cannot be an excuse for the blatant
disinformation the Russian authorities served the public. The U.S. investigation of why the
intelligence services failed has not come to a clear conclusion yet, but at
least it will be possible to avoid making the same mistake twice. Russia, where Ignatienkos are free to repeat
official lies without raising any greater civic and political interest, will
not have the same chance."
"Chechnya Shadow Over Air Deaths"
The center-left Irish Times observed
(8/26): "Within seconds it was
clear that terrorism was involved....
Investigators have been careful--in the absence of hard evidence--to
allow for the possibility that human error or mechanical mishap contributed to
a tragic coincidence of two accidents....
Attention focused on Chechen separatists whose predominant leader, Aslan
Maskhadov, vowed in June to escalate attacks against Russians.... His spokesman denied responsibilty in London
yesterday.... An escalation in violence
appeared inevitable in the run-up to the election on Sunday to choose a successor
to Akhmad Kadyrov, the Moscow-backed president of the republic who was
assassinated in May. Separatists, who are boycotting an election from which
their participation has in any case been banned, are determined to make polling
as difficult as possible. Human rights organisations have already cast major
doubts on the process. Yet the truth is that neither side in this bloody war is
capable of delivering a decisive strike against the other, or of pointing to a
way out of the impasse. President Putin is bogged down, increasingly relying on
a dwindling group of Chechens willing to identify with Russian rule and the
brute force of an incompetent, indiscriminate army whose morale is at
rock-bottom. The opposition, on the other hand, is incapable of inflicting more
than pinprick military victories and has to resort instead to the ‘propaganda
of the deed’ in the form of terrorism to advertise its continuing struggle. If
terrorists are shown to have caused Tuesday's events, the tragedy will be
compounded by the fact that it appears neither side is even close to taking the
first small political steps needed to end the spiral of violence.”
"A Kremlin Candidate Won In Chechnya"
Agnes Gereben argued in business/political Vilaggazdasag
(8/31): “It wasn’t a question for even a
second that the candidate of the Kremlin, General Alu Alhanov would win against
the six self-proclaimed and the four strongly discouraged candidates in a
landslide victory in Chechnya. And how much can a former interior minister, who
looks like an American countryside sheriff with a square form chin, do to settle
the now quite soured conflict in Chechnya, remains a question. The Los Angeles Times newspaper called
the 21st century Caucasian war ‘Moscow’s Iraq’.
But an important difference is that while the 140 thousand troops of the
U.S. will sooner or later leave Iraq, the Kremlin simply cannot ‘let’ tiny
Chechnya go. It would be a signal to
"Moscow Tries It Again"
Liberal Magyar Hirlap observed (8/30): “[Elected president] Alhanov will most likely
be receiving guidelines not only from Moscow but from Chechnya as well. The ten year old conflict therefore has not
moved any closer toward resolution.”
Leading Nepszabadsag editorialized (8/28): "9/11 resulted in a painful catharsis in
the U.S. The question is whether August 25 will now make the Kremlin realize
that it is high time it chose new tactics. A rebelling republic [Chechnya] just
can’t be settled peacefully with guns and political propaganda statements.”
"The 'Black Widows'"
Newspaper-of-record Aftenposten editorialized (8/31): "Chechnya is not a regular part of
Russia, and elections in Chechnya are not like regular elections.... Questions in connections with the election
have been raised, just like when the previous President, Akhmad Kadyrov, was
elected in October of last year.... We
will hear a lot about Chechnya in the future, and about a conflict marked by fanaticism
and military power, where the willingness to compromise and political movements
should be granted more space. The suicide bombers in the two planes illustrate
to a whole world how difficult the situation is for the Russian authorities.
But a justified and complete condemnation of this type of terror does not free
the stronger party--and that is Russia--from using more political sagacity, and
fewer tanks and cannons, to come up with a solution.”
"The Mystery Of Putin"
Independent Dagbladet held (8/27): "The content of the black boxes will not
provide any answers, the investigators said yesterday. Meanwhile the world is
invited to wonder why the logical main-lead in the investigation--terror--was
pushed away to a sidetrack.... [The
Chechnyan terrorists] have shown a creativity of calculated mayhem against
civilians like nobody else before them....
Putin’s investigators from the security organizations, which Putin knows
like the inside of his own pockets, have had political motives for looking for
other leads than that of terror. That smells.”
Terrorists Attack Russia"
Jerzy Haszczynski remarked in centrist Rzeczpospolita
(9/1): “Terrorism cannot be
justified.... But one should at least
try to understand certain terrorists, even though the consequences of their
acts are horrible. This is the case with female suicides, the Chechens driven
to extremes, who are suspected of having committed the recent attacks [in
Russia].... Alas, we will probably hear
about Chechen female terrorists and their bloody attacks quite often--unless
Moscow changes its policy toward the rebellious republic and tries to look
differently at the separatists.”
Bartosz Weglarczyk opined in liberal Gazeta Wyborcza
(8/31): “Accidentally, just after the
farce of the [Chechen] elections, two of the most important politicians in the
EU are meeting with Putin. The fact that Chirac and Schroeder will not address
the electoral farce in Chechnya is a moral defeat for the West, because someone
must say to President Putin that only dictators behave as he does in Chechnya.”
"Dead End In Chechnya"
Left-of-center El País declared (8/30): "At this point, a forceful response by
Russian forces would be of little or no use.
If anything, these attacks only reaffirm what was apparent over the past
few months: the separatist rebels are stronger and more organized.... Exhausted by this fight, with the timid
process of 'Chechen-ization' having offered no results.... Putin appears to have no other policy for
Chechnya except to keep shooting. The
guerrilla are willing to fight until a final victory. And the Europeans prefer to look the other
way. And so Chechnya will stay this way,
for now, with or without elections."
"Russian Air Tragedy, With The Caucasus At The Bottom"
Conservative ABC observed (8/27): "The situation of the Caucasus hides
such huge potential instability that is not crazy to think of a scenario a
conflict could explode.... All the
ingredients are there for this mountainous zone to turn into another powder
keg, like the Middle East.... One could
also argue that it's a region new to democracy after decades of subjugation to
the Soviet totalitarian regime and that it has enough resources to face the
future with hope.... Russia has a hugely
important role as the dominant power in the region and should avoid any
temptation to turn that responsibility into a pretext to continue to use some
Caucasian countries as satellites and puppets for its own interests.... Any solution that can serve to promote peace
in Chechnya, or in the separatist regions of Georgia, or between Armenia and
Azerbaijan, can't be imposed by Russia, but nor can Moscow let the terrorists
impose their ideas with bombs."
The pro-government English-language Arab News declared
(9/1): "The victory of Moscow's
favored candidate Alu Alkhanov in Sunday's Chechen presidential election is
being questioned because of voting irregularities.... However, the real problem with this election
came not at the ballot box but in the selection of candidates when Malik
Saidullayev, a popular entrepreneur, was banned from standing.... This was clearly an example of
manipulation.... Authorities in Moscow
preferred to hold a tainted election rather than risk electoral humiliation. In
normal circumstances this result should be greeted with disdain. These are not,
however, normal circumstances and this result, however flawed, may in the long
run be the best for the Chechen people.
It is important to remember that the current struggle in Chechnya is
President Vladimir Putin's war.... After
9/11...Putin won tacit approval from the U.S. to do what he felt that he had to
do.... Alkhanov's victory on Sunday means
that the Russian policy can continue without deviation. For Putin the course is
toward total military victory. For those who know Chechnya and its history, the
direction is more likely to be toward a long and painful defeat. Much of Chechnya is in ruins.... This is not a black-and-white conflict. Rebel
groups have changed sides and attack each other.... The election, by fair means or foul, of
Alkhanov at least provides Russian-dominated Chechnya with a leader around whom
the currents of the controversy can surge. Three of the new man's predecessors
have been assassinated and whatever Alkhanov's political credentials, his
personal bravery cannot be questioned."
"Presidential Poll Fails To Boost Peace Hopes"
The English-language semi-official Gulf Times
advised (8/31): "Russia has tried
almost all the tricks in the book to try to bring Chechnya back under its
control, including holding an 'election' for the presidency of the republic,
which returned Kremlin favourite and former policeman Alu Alkhanov with an
overwhelming majority. The election
process was widely regarded as being rigged; Alkhanov is a little-known figure
without a strong power base and it seems unlikely that he will be able to end
the 13-year-long rebellion. In the past week alone, Chechen guerrillas have
killed about 50 pro-Moscow security men in the Chechen capital, Grozny, and two
suicide bombers are believed to have brought down two Russian airliners,
killing 90 people. Chechens reportedly
believe that the election heralds the beginning of a bloody new phase in the
war.... Alkhanov was hand-picked for the
job in June and observers consider the election was a mere formality--the only
serious opponent he faced was disqualified from standing.... There is little doubt that the Chechen people
are weary of the war and would welcome a return to peace; but if Alkhanov and
Putin continue to try to impose Russian supremacy by force, the Chechen
resistance will continue to fight back....
Both parties would benefit if the conflict could be brought to an end
through common sense and diplomacy, rather than continuing on the present
course which is responsible for enormous misery suffered by people on both
sides of the conflict. Unfortunately,
the participants seem unwilling to recognise the futility of continuing with a conflict
which it seems neither side can win. The Kremlin may fear that Putin’s
reputation would be damaged if he showed any willingness to accommodate the
claims of the Chechen rebels, while the insurgents cannot accept the idea of
being subject to Russian rule."
"From Bullet To Ballot"
The expatriate-oriented English-language Khaleej
Times concluded (8/30): "The
Chechens went to poll yesterday even as Moscow talked of a Chechen connection
to this week's twin aircraft crash. The poll, being held to elect a new
president three months after the last president, Akhmed Kadyrov, was
assassinated. Alu Alkhanov, the interior
minister, is being projected by Moscow as the man to inherit Kadyrov's mantle.
Serious questions are being raised about the nature of Moscow-sponsored polls
and whether they are free and fair....
Also it remains to be seen if elected, Alkhanov, another 'yes man'
Kremlin has groomed over the years, will be able to bring peace to this
war-plagued republic. More importantly, Alkhanov must win the confidence and
trust of his people for bringing stability to the country. The people are tired of this long-running
conflict that has claimed thousands of lives in Chechnya and inflicted heavy
damages on mighty Russia. But it is up to Moscow to initiate measures that will
help in winning the hearts and minds of Chechen people. There is no point in
going on denying the existence of a conflict in the republic. Instead the
Kremlin should initiate immediate and concrete measures to address Chechen
grievances for lasting peace in the region."
CHINA (HONG KONG SAR): "War Against Terrorism Is A Long
Pro-PRC Chinese-language Hong Kong Commercial Daily
remarked (8/26): "Since the 9/11
attacks in the U.S., the whole world has devoted its efforts to countering
international terrorist activities.
However, international terrorist power has not abated. Yesterday, two Russian airplanes were
hijacked and crashed. It is a repetition
of the September 11 attacks in the U.S. three years ago. Although further investigations are still
needed to check where the terrorists came from and what are their objectives,
these large-scale terrorist attacks are obviously well planned. They are certainly not the action of
individual terrorists.... The world is
so big; radical terrorists will always exist; power and hegemony will not
disappear. Hence, terrorist attacks will
not vanish in the short term. People
everywhere should be on the alert and take all kinds of preventative
measures. These are the best ways to
counter terrorist attacks. The terrorist
attacks in Russia happened just before the third anniversary of the September
11 attacks. Do terrorists want to take
revenge on Russia or do they want to show their power to the world or to give
out signals for a new round of attacks?
People should pay close attention to the incident."
"Putin Suggests Dialogue With Chechens?"
An editorial in liberal Tokyo Shimbun read (9/1): "President Putin has said that the
Russian government is ready to negotiate and compromise with all forces interested
in finding a political solution to the Chechen dispute. Putin's remarks, seen
as expressing a readiness to make contact with separatist rebels, suggest a
major policy turnaround in the consistently hard-line stance taken by the
Russian president. But, his comments,
made immediately after his talks with his French and German counterparts, are
suspected of being directed at European leaders critical of Russia's handling
of the Chechen conflict."
"Rough Road Ahead For Peace"
An editorial in liberal Asahi read (8/31): "Maj. Gen. Alkhanov has easily achieved
his expected win in the Chechen presidential race, but separatist rebels are
reacting strongly to the election of the Moscow-backed government. The new president will have no choice but to
incorporate input from the Kremlin in carrying out his policies. As long as Alkhanov receives support from the
federal government, dialogue with the armed guerillas will be impossible.... Under the control of Russian President Putin,
and lacking in charisma and political skills, the new leader is bound to find
the road toward peace in Chechnya long and winding."
"Economic Reconstruction Urgently Needed"
Liberal Tokyo Shimbun stated (8/31): "President-elect Alkhanov has expressed
his strong determination to restore order and carry out economic
reconstruction. His resolve reflects a
sense of urgency on his part to deal with the situation in which some
'war-fatigued' Chechens are moving toward acts of terrorism and other crimes amidst
the crumbling economy.... The unstable
social structure combined with extreme poverty and worsening security has
become a breeding ground for terrorism.
Alkhanov will be required to address these issues swiftly."
"Need For Russian Dialogue With Moderate
Liberal Mainichi argued (8/30): "A strong connection between the recent
crash of two Russian airliners and armed conflicts in Chechnya appears
likely. If the latest accidents turn out
to be terrorist acts by Chechen guerillas, it will be a blow to the pride of
President Putin and Russia's security agencies, which have taken a tough stance
on the rebel group. Putin has emphasized
Russia's refusal to succumb to terrorism, and he is likely to respond
militarily to the latest incidents.
However, his hard-line approach has failed to stop radical Chechens from
carrying out terrorist acts. Endless
conflict there should be halted. The
Russian government should seriously explore the possibility for dialogue with
"Global Community Must Stop Chain Of
Conservative Sankei said (8/26): "The international community must
strongly condemn their act of terrorism if Chechnyan rebels are found to be
responsible for the crash of two Russian passenger planes. The world community's lack of attention to
Moscow's oppression of Chechnya's nationhood risks prompting such possible
acts. In order to prevent further acts
of terrorism, members of the international community, including Japan, should
urge the Kremlin to accept Chechnya's partial independence from Russian
"Russian Plane Crash Amid Threat Of Terrorism"
Business-oriented Nikkei stated (8/26): "It is worrisome that Chechen terrorists
may have expanded their target to passenger planes. However, President Putin should review his
coercive policy toward Chechnya. He has
used force against Chechen rebels while giving favorable treatment to
'cooperative' Chechens. This policy has
betrayed Chechen trust in Moscow.
Terrorism is not acceptable, but at the same time, Moscow needs to make
efforts to gain the trust of the Chechnyan people."
An editorial in the nationalist Hindustan Times read
(8/30): "With all the evidence
pointing to terrorism as the cause of the crash of two Russian jetliners last
week, the Chechen issue is back to haunt Russian authorities.... The timing of the crashes on the eve of
presidential elections in Chechnya is telling.
More than 13 years after Chechens first took up arms to break away from
Russia, there are no signs of an end to the conflict. In fact, there's been an
increase in terrorist violence not only in the long-suffering republic, but
also inside Russia. If hopes for a non-military solution blossomed briefly when
Putin succeeded Boris Yeltsin, they
faded when the former decided to bring the separatists to heel using
force.... Putin thought that a
pro-Moscow local leader could solve the problem, he underestimated the
determination and ruthlessness of the rebels who assassinated Kadyrov. And now Moscow looks set for an encore,
replacing Kadyrov with Alu Alkhanov in Sunday's presidential vote. Alkhanov has a highwire act to follow as he
tries to implement his declared policies....
But this is easier said than done as Moscow has so discredited Mr.
Maskhadov that to sit across the negotiating table with him would be a loss of
face for the Kremlin."
Find A Crack In The Shield"
The Victoria-based centrist Times Colonist observed
(8/31): "It would be wrong...to
believe that what happened in Russia could never happen here. We are just as
vulnerable as the Russians were.... The
rest of the world should take careful note as the Russians try to determine
whether their anti-terrorism systems failed, or if the attackers managed to
slip through a gap in the defences. The information gleaned could have a major
impact on air travellers around the world....
There were warning signs last week in Moscow, although it's always
easier to spot them after the fact. The two people suspected of carrying the
hexogen on board, 'black widows' from Chechnya, bought their tickets at the
last minute.... Odds are, they would
never have made it on board El Al, the airline with the toughest anti-terrorism
systems in the world.... Being the
Israeli national airline, El Al is a natural target. But it has been able to
head off possible attacks, including some that would have used unsuspecting passengers
to carry the explosives. Of course, El Al is tiny compared to the industry's
giants, and the time-consuming system it uses may be tough to implement on a
larger scale. Another problem is that while box cutters, nail files and guns
are obvious to modern detection systems, plastic explosives such as hexogen are
much harder to find--and can do much more damage. Airport and airline security has come a long
way since 9/11. The twin strikes at Russia should be a reminder that the
threats are still out there, lurking just under the surface."
Liberal Folha de S. Paulo declared (8/31): "The confirmation that the fall of two
Russian civilian planes resulted from sabotage acts serves to remind us that
terrorism has become a permanent threat, the fight against which cannot be
carried out exclusively through repression....
There is not the slightest doubt that it is fundamental to invest in
prevention, security and repression against radical groups. Unfortunately,
these measures are not enough to ensure that the homicidal fury does not
produce more victims among the civilian population.... It is necessary to try to take action on the
political front. It is not enough to end the terrorist threat, but it brings
the prospect that terrorism may some day lose its reason to exist. In the case
of Russia, there is no doubt that a solution for the problem in Chechnya would
very much diminish the radicals' mood.... Everything indicates that terrorism
will continue frightening Mankind in the coming years. It is a concern that has
come to stay for a long time."