Russian analyst says east Ukraine is not like 1990s Chechnya

Text of report by Russian tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda on 5 June

[Report by Aleksandr Grishin: "Fighting in Donbass and Chechen War: Why They Should Not Be Compared – Seven Differences between Regions of East of Ukraine That Have Risen Up against Kiev Junta and Rebellious Ichkeria"]

During recent weeks the Ukrainian media have been intensely discussing the idea of the supposed justification for a punitive operation by Kiev in Donbass. And as an argument they cite the point: "Why could Russia conduct military action in Chechnya while Ukraine is not allowed to do so in the southeast, if in both places separatists have risen up against the central government?" Well, let us examine whether Donbass-2014 really is that similar to Chechnya-1994.

First. The "acquisition of independence" in Chechnya and Donbass has taken place in line with absolutely different scenarios.

In Groznyy in 1991 Dzhokhar Dudayev supported the State Committee for the State of Emergency and after its collapse he was clearly frightened of the "debriefing". As a result, on 6 September 1991 Dudayev announced the dissolution of state power in the republic, and seized the Supreme Soviet building, the television centre, and radio broadcasting house. Dudayev’s men beat up many of the deputies from the Supreme Soviet of Checheno-Ingushetiya and threw the chairman of the Groznyy city council out of a window; he fell to his death. Dudayev proclaimed Chechnya’s independence, no-one asked the people.

In Donetsk and Luhansk, the leaders of the resistance to the Kiev junta were nominated at mass popular rallies. And they were able to organize and hold a referendum on independence on 11 May, in which the overwhelming majority of the population participated. People stood in kilometre-long queues in order to vote. And around 90 per cent came out in favour of independence from Kiev. It was only after this that the leaders of the Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics started to organize their own real power structures.

Second. After the proclamation of Chechnya’s independence, the Russian population there was subjected to mass oppression. More than 250,000 Russians were forced to leave the republic’s territory. According to official data, between 1991 and 1999 more than 21,000 civilian (non-military) Russian-speaking citizens were killed in Chechnya, more than 100,000 apartments and houses were seized from representatives of non-titular (non-Chechen) ethnicities, and around 46,000 people were turned into slaves. Moreover, the banditry that flourished on the territory of Chechnya spilled over the republic’s boundaries. Hundreds of billions of roubles were cashed in on forged Chechen advice notes and the looting of passing trains, including passenger trains, became systematic – in 1993 alone Chechen gangs robbed 559 trains. The seizure of hostages, including foreign hostages, torture and executions became the norm. And, most interestingly, during all this time Moscow was transferring money to Chechnya as a component part of the federation from its own budget.

And Donbass? Are they expelling or robbing Ukrainians there? No. Not a single case of the forcible seizure of anyone’s property has been recorded. No persecution on ethnic, linguistic, or any other humanitarian grounds (indeed, none at all!). The local militia, on the contrary, strictly (up to and including the use of wartime legislation) stops cases of looting and ensures order. However, Kiev has already refused to pay public sector wages and pensions to old people in some towns of the region, including Slovyansk.

Third. Chechnya existed de facto as an independent state, although it was not recognized by anyone, during the period after the signing of the Khasavyurt agreements, but the wave of banditry and extremism did not abate there.

Who knows, it is quite possible that the "proud Ichkeria" would have existed even now if Khattab’s and Basayev’s gunmen had not gone on a military campaign in Russian Dagestan with the intention of adding neighbouring territories to Chechnya. It was after this that the decision was taken to conduct a second Chechen campaign, in which Moscow was supported by the larger part of the Chechen people.

No-one in Luhansk and Donetsk is planning to march on Kiev or Lviv, Poltava, Chernihiv… The only desire of both the leaders of the republics and their entire population is to be left in peace, for the bombing and killing, just for their decision to become independent from today’s Ukraine, which has turned into a nationalist quasi-state, to cease.

Fourth. The separatists in Chechnya declared war on a lawful Russian regime, which due to its legitimacy had the right to introduce a state of emergency and conduct a counter-terrorist operation. As far as Donbass is concerned, its population did not wish to submit to the junta that came to power as a result of a coup d’etat, the treacherous violation of signed agreements, and which unleashed terror against the local population.

Fifth. The Chechen terrorists were received at the highest level in Europe and America, they were given military and financial aid by the Persian Gulf monarchies, not to mention the huge flow of mercenaries made up of Islamic radicals from the entire world, including international terrorists from al-Qa’idah.

Donetsk and Luhansk rely primarily on their own resources. The weapons with which the militia oppose aggression from Kiev were obtained from the Ukrainian army, some of the volunteers are from neighbouring Russia – less than 10 per cent of the militia, and more than 90 per cent are made up of local residents from Slovyansk, Horlivka etc, and from various regions of Ukraine, including from Kharkiv, Odessa, and even Lviv. Not one of the countries of the West has considered the leaders of Novorossiya and its population party to the negotiation process.

Sixth. Russia conducted negotiations with the separatists both in Groznyy and in Moscow, trying to resolve everything peacefully. And at the end of the forcible phase of the counterterrorist operation, Russia sent huge funds to Chechnya for restoration and the republic is now one of the best-equipped regions of the country.

As for Novorossiya, no-one in Kiev is conducting any negotiations with Donetsk and Luhansk, not a single call for peace has been heard from the current junta, and from the very start there was the aim of forcible punitive suppression. A clear directive was imposed in relation to the people of the regions that rose up – consider them second-class citizens, not even people but "Colourados". No-one intends to invest any additional (or even mandatory) funds in the development of Donbass and Luhansk. These regions interest the Kiev regime exclusively as "cash cows" – a territory providing two-thirds of Ukraine’s exports and foreign currency earnings.

Seventh and most important. The overwhelming majority of the population of Chechnya was in favour of the existence of their republic within the framework of the Russian Federation. It was the population’s refusal to support the gunmen that ultimately led to their collapse. As for Novorossiya, the will of the people here is absolutely clear and it has been demonstrated categorically in referendums, and the right to defend the people’s will using all available means has been delegated to the new power structures in the Donetsk and Luhansk republics.

Source: Komsomolskaya Pravda website, Moscow, in Russian 5 Jun 14



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