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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 December 2004, 19:17 GMT
Chechnya viewpoints: Tom de Waal
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

TOM DE WAAL, Caucasus Editor and Programme Manager at the London-based Institute for War and Peace Reporting


I visited Chechnya three times in 1994 before Russian forces were sent there. It is my strong conviction from those visits that the Chechen dispute was entirely solvable.

Russian soldier in Grozny

Support among the population for Dzhokhar Dudayev was falling and it was a question only of when and on what terms Chechnya would become part of Russia again.

Military intervention - and in particular the criminal destruction of the city of Grozny - made things a thousand times worse and we are still living with the consequences.

So who is to blame? In the first place, Boris Yeltsin and his entourage. And in the second place - Dudayev.


The current tragedy of Chechnya is that violence has become criminalised and self-perpetuating.

Tom de Waal
Ordinary Chechens... will agree to any pragmatic solution that respects their basic rights and security
Tom de Waal
Ordinary Chechens are exhausted by a decade of destruction and will agree to any pragmatic solution that respects their basic rights and security.

But none of the three main armed protagonists - the Kadyrovtsy, the federal forces or the radical fighters loyal to [warlord Shamil] Basayev - want to give up their power.

Moscow needs to stop relying on one narrow group (currently the Kadyrovtsy) and make Chechnya a parliamentary republic.

And it needs to actively invite international help - in tracking down Basayev, monitoring human rights and beginning real reconstruction.


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