Saturday, February 17, 2007

The Chechnyan Disaster

Vladimir Putin has handed control of Chechnya to a monster by the name of Ramzan Kadyrov.

The Guardian paints a picture of Kadyrov as a brutal tyrant, just the sort Putin would choose to suppress the Chechens:

"Mr Kadyrov personifies much of the tragedy visited on his people. A rebel fighter turned by the Russians, he and his clan have pacified the province by establishing a rule of medieval brutality. The murdered journalist Anna Politkovskaya accused Mr Kadyrov of personally assisting in the torture of suspects. Human Rights Watch last year documented 82 cases of torture by forces under the control of Mr Kadyrov's paramilitary groups.

"One of the most feared torture chambers is in Mr Kadyrov's home village of Tsentoroi. Relatives, associates or friends of wanted rebels are abducted and then tortured for weeks on end with electric shocks, beatings and suffocation. If they emerge alive they are presented with a menu of crimes, to which they readily confess. Keeping their mouth shut is a condition of their release. The Russian human-rights organisation, Memorial, documented 316 cases of abduction in 2005, and of those 127 disappeared without trace, and 23 were found dead, bearing the marks of assassination. But Chechnya is a forgotten conflict, a casualty not only of Mr Putin's presidency but of the decision by the US and Britain to co-opt Russia as an ally in the war on terror. It was a trade-off that obliged the west to avert its troubled gaze on Chechnya in return for access to strategic airbases in central Asia, and ultimately a victory over the Taliban in Afghanistan. Chechnya hangs like a cloud over Britain's worsening relations with Russia, as it does over the unexplained murders of Ms Politkovskaya and the former fugitive Alexander Litvinenko.

"The only voices against [Kadyrov] are dead ones. Ms Politkovskaya said in one of her last interviews: 'I dream that he should face trial. And the strictest legal procedures with the listing and investigation of all his crimes should take place.' It is unlikely to happen soon."

Before 9/11 the world widely condemned the brutality and butchery Russia meted out to the Chechen people. Once the World Trade Centre towers were knocked down, all that changed. Suddenly Vladimir Putin became a valued allly in the Global War Without End on Terror and the suffering in Chechnya was forgotten.

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