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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 December, 2004, 19:51 GMT
Chechnya viewpoints: Mikhail Margelov
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


MIKHAIL MARGELOV, head of the Russian Federation Council Foreign Affairs Committee

WHO IS TO BLAME?

It would be superficial - to say the least - to blame Dzhokhar Dudayev or Boris Yeltsin for the entire conflict. The current instability in the North Caucasus had historical preconditions going back not really to the 19th Century, but to the 1920s.

Mikhail Margelov
Chechnya has a strategic geopolitical position. Pull a string there and the entire Caucasus region will fall apart
Mikhail Margelov
At that time already the interference of "outside forces" was a factor in the "war for the Caucasus".

The collapse of the USSR revived old conflicts that had been kept at bay, partly by repression.

It seems futile to determine who is guilty for such historical and geopolitical circumstances. In Chechnya historical memory turned out to be very deep-rooted. Stalin's deportation [of Chechens] strengthened emotions, and 10 years ago people appeared who managed to revive them.

Chechnya has a strategic geopolitical position. Pull a string there and the entire Caucasus region will fall apart. Dudayev declared Chechnya independent, while the Pan-Turkic Confederation of Caucasus People supported the separation of the North Caucasus from Russia. And so it all started.

But one should distinguish between the two Chechen wars. Both sides - Moscow and Grozny - are perhaps to blame for unleashing the first one.

The genocide of non-Chechens started in the republic. Outside terrorist circles started getting involved, and Caspian oil was becoming part of the equation. Moscow reacted hastily. The actions were ill-conceived from both the political and the military points of view.

The [1996] Khasavyurt peace agreement turned Chechnya into a pirate state. Terrorists from all over the world started assembling there. [In 1999] they invaded Dagestan. The military operation during the second war was more or less successful.

WHAT CAN BE DONE?

Terrorists will not be involved in the settlement process.

Russian soldier in Grozny
QUICK GUIDE

Russia is part of the anti-terrorist coalition, which does not hold negotiations with terrorists.

A political process is under way in Chechnya.

The world community is taking part in it, represented by such organisations as the OSCE and PACE.

The Beslan child-killers are not rebels or separatists. However, the ideologists of such actions are strolling around European capitals and government buildings in countries which participate in the anti-terrorist coalition.

This does nothing to help resolve the conflict in Chechnya.


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