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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 December 2004, 19:12 GMT
Chechnya viewpoints: Konstantin Kosachev
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


KONSTANTIN KOSACHEV, head of the Russian Duma Foreign Affairs Committee

WHO IS TO BLAME?

If we really want to answer the second question - What can be done? - then we should refrain from a deep investigation into the matter of who is to blame. Otherwise we risk starting to look for scapegoats - a method as quintessentially Russian as it is fruitless.

Konstantin Kosachev
The different forces mean different and often contradictory things when talking about a political solution
Konstantin Kosachev
We are unlikely to find a couple of guilty ones whom we could condemn and then smoothly move forward.

Various historical factors - processes in contemporary Islam, the rapid globalisation of terrorism, the situation in the army and political system, the state of public morale in Russia these days and 10 years ago, the fluctuating world community's stance on Chechnya and much more - intricately and fatally contributed to the Chechen conflict.

Today we should not be looking for the guilty ones. It is more important to answer the question: "who benefits from this conflict?" The answer may turn out to be most unexpected, but it is the key to untying the Chechen knot.

WHAT CAN BE DONE?

The different forces mean different - and often contradictory - things when talking about a political solution. The militants understand this as the unconditional acceptance of their terms. But this is not a political solution. It will be a military capitulation, which, as we know from the lessons of the Khasavyurt peace, spells nothing good for Chechnya and the neighbouring republics.

Russian soldier in Grozny
QUICK GUIDE

After the Beslan massacre, which, incidentally had been promised by [separatist leader Aslan] Maskhadov, these [militant] forces excluded themselves from the political settlement process.

Therefore, Chechnya has no alternative other than a painful, contradictory process of creating Chechnya's political system within the framework of Russian statehood.

It is important that our Western partners, if they sincerely wish us to achieve peace in Chechnya, understand this, and encourage - or at least do not hinder - the inter-Chechen process.




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