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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 December 2004, 18:33 GMT
Chechnya viewpoints: Irina Hakamada
The conflict that has raged in Chechnya for the past decade has triggered sharply contrasting views.

To mark the 10th anniversary of Russia's massive military assault on the breakaway republic, BBCrussian.com asked 10 prominent politicians, human rights activists, researchers and journalists to comment.

The panel were asked to answer two classic questions that have troubled Russian thinkers for centuries: "Who is to blame?" and "What can be done?"

Alu Alkhanov
Alu Alkhanov:
Chechen president

Irina Khakamada
Irina Hakamada:
liberal politician

Diederik Lohman
Diederik Lohman:
HRW researcher

Konstantin Kosachev
Konstantin Kosachev:
Russian MP

Sultan Yashurkayev
Sultan Yashurkayev:
Chechen writer
Tom de Waal
Tom de Waal:
Caucasus expert

Valentina Melnikova
Valentina Melnikova:
Soldiers' mothers

Mikhail Margelov
Mikhail Margelov:
Russian MP

Lyoma Turpalov
Lyoma Turpalov:
Chechen journalist

Akhmed Zakayev
Akhmed Zakayev:
rebel envoy

IRINA HAKAMADA, liberal Russian politician


The Chechen conflict resulted from a convergence of all possible negative factors related to Russia's past and present. It includes the paralysis of the state authority in the early 1990s, the irresponsibility of Russia's ruling elite and the wrecking tactics of the Chechen elite.

Irina Hakamada
A civil war is under way in Chechnya
Irina Hakamada
Add to this the desire of certain people to profit from military supplies. Such conflicts don't emerge just because somebody has said or done something.

What happened cannot be reversed. Now it is important not to determine who was to blame then, but to understand the current situation.

The tragedy of the Chechen people, and of the Russian people as a whole, results from the fact that after the military operation in Chechnya [during the second campaign], a profoundly erroneous path of peace settlement was chosen. The following mistakes were made:

  • Designing a power structure suiting only [late Chechen president Akhmad] Kadyrov

  • A deliberate strategy of creating a split in the ranks of the militants, with one group turning into policemen and another being branded international terrorists

  • Equating Chechen separatism with international terrorism

  • Lack of control over money directed to Chechnya

  • The continuation of military (mopping-up) operations, despite official declarations that they had been halted.

As a result, the constitutional referendum and presidential election, supposed to be the culmination of the settlement process, turned out to be mere public relations exercises aimed at simulating peace.

A civil war is under way in Chechnya. In this situation presidential elections can only deepen the split in society.


  • Openly recognise the erroneous nature of the previous policy. A mistake is not a crime

  • Openly recognise that a civil war is going on in Chechnya

    Russian soldier in Grozny

  • To separate the issue of Chechen separatism from that of the international terrorist threat. Otherwise the terrorist will continue to enjoy public support in Chechnya

  • Convene roundtable talks that should be open to everyone, apart from the likes of Basayev. This round table shall have the authority of a constituent assembly, which will lay a real foundation of constitutional order Chechnya, as opposed to the one that will be left on paper

  • Adopt new measures to integrate Chechen youth into Russian society, including easier access to universities, special employment programmes

  • Move towards a parliamentary rather than presidential republic. It is only by providing leaders of different clans with real influence that we can force them to take political responsibility

  • We should not be afraid of disputes arising - let Chechen leaders argue in parliament, rather than bombing each other

  • Bring some kind of order to Chechen finances.


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