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Monday, 29 November, 1999, 10:27 GMT
Is Russia's action in Chechnya justified?

Chechnya should be severely punished for committing heinous crimes in the name of religion.
Srinivas, India

Nothing can justify barbarism. The savage intervention is a throwback to the Cold War.
D Paun, Romania

Read what you have said since the programme

Read a reflection of your comments during the programme

Read what you said before we went on air

Your comments since the programme I believe Chechnya should be treated the same as western countries have treated East Timor. UNO is very partial in international affairs and taking sides of super powers.
Saifullah, USA

Throughout the exigency in Chechnya, Russia has maintained a 'vested' interest in the gratuitous, brutal massacre of indigenous 'prey'. Russia needs to be trans-nationally lambasted. Moreover, amicable relations need to be founded between an independent Chechen nation and Russia.
Peter Crawford-Bolton, UK in US

At least the Russians recognise the threat from Muslim extremists. All the politicians of the west do is go on sticking their heads in the sand because it will be their own people who will pay the price of ignoring the threat. I salute the Russians resolve in trying to stamp out the evil that is per
D Tyler, England

It is apparent Russia is desperately hanging on. Their per capita earnings of roughly several hundred US $ per month and the simple observation that the Russian male has an average life span of some 54 years, reveal structural failures which are much more difficult to resolve than their border disputes. This is a rapidly declining impoverished nation that is unable to maintain its own borders. If they are going to insist on charity from the rest of the world via the IMF fund, they will have to comply with the IMF requests. Otherwise I feel we should let Russia dissolve, and let Russia deal with their own private humanitarian needs.
Alex, USA

I think now that the Russians are actively encouraging the civilian population to leave Grozny, it is apparent that they intend using chemical warfare to eliminate the remaining Chechen fighters. The Russians know that should they storm the city they will lose hundreds if not thousands of soldiers. The international community must wake up and warn the Russians that using weapons of mass destruction is bound by international law to be an act of war against the whole civilised world.
Muazzam Imran, England

Fortunately, what we all think does not matter. The USA government will select whatever opinions support its own view, trash the rest, and do whatever suits its own foreign policy. War is far too serious to be directed by fickle public opinion. For what it's worth, I think any attempt to weaken Russia at this stage will only prolong the conflict, cost more lives and destabilise the region further.
Andrew, UK

Russia's latest war in Chechnya has nothing to do with terrorism. It is not normal for a country to declare a full-scale war because of some terrorist incidents probably committed by a small number of people. Russia has not disclosed its "evidence" yet regarded who committed the bombings and therefore suspicion is still be very strong that Russian provocateurs committed the bombings. The UK never sent air raids against Northern Ireland, nor did the US bomb Tim McVeigh's hometown or previous residences. India did not go to war after Rajiv Gandhi was murdered. Besides, if it was really organised Chechen terrorists that perpetrated the bombings, why have they stopped?
John Tillinghast, California

I just want to tell the Russians that they have been trying to crush the Chechens for 1000 years under different lame pretexts at different times. BUT the question is that have they been able to? No, they are completely wrong if they are expecting that this time to. KGB agents deserve the full credit for Russian blasts expect some more before the elections next year. Russia will pay for this inhuman campaign.
Ghauri III, Canada

I'm all astonishment. How is it possible to say that Russians just kill innocent people in Chechnya? Hey, French, English and other people, have you already forgot that 4 Englishmen were killed in Chechnya? Not even actually killed, but their heads were cut out. And if anyone tries to protect "innocent people of Chechnya" I strongly recommend him or her to imagine first their relatives being killed, or the block of flats were they live being blown up. What will you say then?
Sergey, Russia

Russia has the right to attend to her own political affairs. However, this does not include using tactics that maim and kill innocent people. It should also be said that the use of any 'chemical' weapons is totally unjustified as biological weapons, or scud missiles. Russia needs to end this war as quickly as possible and restore domestic tranquillity along with working to develop their economy and address economic problems in a peaceful way.
Dave Adams, USA

It is rich of Clinton to feign horror at the war in Chechnya when American warplanes butchered thousands of innocent people in Serbia and Kosovo. It is none of the USA's business and Clinton the war criminal should keep his hypocritical nose out
Mr Harry Robinson, UK

I strongly condemn the Russian crimes in Chechnya. There are many reports and evidences in the Russian media, the bombings in Russia are carried out by the KGB terrorists. It is a shame that the international community is being silent on this brutal and inhuman treatment towards Chechnians.
Basheer Ahmed, USA

Russian intervention in Chechnya is extremely disquieting for every person who has a heart to feel and mind to think. The brutalities perpetrated by Russians upon the poor Chechens are condonable and the whole world should stand united in rebuking the Russian savages. The world should impose sanctions and other imbroglios on Russia as she now worse than a backward third world country.
Nadeem Dar, Pakistan

A few people killed in East Timor and UN peace-keeping forces landed there, to protect human rights. What about Chechnya, as so many innocent people, women and children being killed every hour and the world, especially UN and US (the champion of all human rights) is silent. Why are there these dual standards? Because the people in East Timor were Christians and Chechnya's are Muslims? So it seems in the best interest of western forces that Muslims the world over get killed by all means, whether on Bosnia, Kashmir or Chechnya. If this is correct, then hard-liners like Osama Bin Laden may be right. If justice is not done to Muslims around the globe, many hard-liners revert to so called terrorism, as one can't do anything but to retaliate when pushed with the wall.
Wahaj Siraj, Pakistan

Russia is doing more than what Yugoslavia did in Kosovo. So, what the hell can the west do? The west can bark at Russia, but can it afford to bite? They will threaten Russia with the IMF loan. Although, Russia has a lot of things that can generate dollars, which the west fears the most. Russia is a vast country, which can afford to take heavy losses and equally inflict the loss on the aggressors. The lone superpower and Nato went to far in Yugoslavia, Indonesia, Iraq. If the west interferes in Russia, China and India will join Russia against the west. It is in the west interest to mind its own business. The west can't afford to show jingoism with Russia, as Russia has shown the world they have a formidable nuclear force to overwhelm the west.
Lenin, India

How can anyone justify killing civilian? Only a criminal would agree with Russians.
Saqib Amin, USA

Old and persistent feuds raised during and because of the Crusades are fired up again in our times. We have to deal with them quickly and once and for all, or it will consume our entirely changing community within the first decades of the third millennium.
Ron Brandenburg, The Netherlands

How can barbarism and savage be justified? How can humanity allow the Red Army to massacre an entire nation of Chechens at the end of twentieth century? A couple of days, it was shown on the news, that drunken Russian soldiers killed a Chechen refugee woman for refusing to give them alcohol. I think, that shows the true "Russian culture". Russian nationalism with its long history of invasions, dictatorships, and discrimination of other ethnicities is dangerous for the civilisation. Russia is not moving towards democracy. Russia now is going back to a KGB-military run terrorist state like it was in the past. The current Prime Minister who started this war is the former KGB agent. Lets not forget how Russians came to Chechnya in the first place - after bloody wars and invasion, their "debut" in Caucasus region led to complete extermination of several small nationalities and brought centuries of misery and justification. Chechnya is not Russian land; they should let Chechens be free.
Mareen Bernard, France

I only wanted to say that Russia is not trying to destroy Chechnya as a territory or Chechnya as a nation, or even Islam as a religion. Numerous nations live on the Russian territory. What Russia is going to do is to destroy the Chechen terrorists. They terrorised Russia and the rest of the world - Besides, the west cannot judge after its aggression in Kosovo.
Andrei M., Russia

For sure, what Russians are doing in Chechnya is nothing but barbarism. Those who support Russians in this inhuman adventure are trying to prove that "might is right". The present situation in Chechnya is also a reflection of how useless UNO has become. It only serves the interests of its masters.
Saleem Farooqi, Canada

In reply to a statement by Defkalien Tsagarakis. UN officials estimate the death toll in Kosovo as at least 10,000, not 2500. The UN also says the evidence confirms the charges of war crimes against civilians - they are not "mainly KLA fighters". I wonder if Mr Tsagarakis would whitewash Hitler's crimes quite so readily?
Jason Bush, Austria

You people are funny. It's impossible to take sides in this conflict. Thank God that you're not involved and let them settle whatever they have over there. On one hand, Chechens are nasty, on the other hand everyone seems to underestimate the evil of which the Russian rulers are capable.
Bram Bones, USA

As a student of Russian Politics, it sickens me to see how some ill-informed western people with leftover cold war attitudes can condemn Russia's actions in Chechnya. Russia is NOT waging a war with the Chechen people or committing any genocide or other atrocities. It is fighting Chechen terrorists who, if Chechnya were given independence from Russia, would run a brutal authoritarian state in Chechnya to fuel their own drug trade. So you see, if we stopped for a minute to consider this situation impartially, instead of immediately crying "genocide" and rallying round the Chechen "self-determination" cause, we would see that, as it stands, the Chechens are actually better off under Russian rule.
Stephen Greek, United Kingdom

Russia has a right to defend its own territories. The same applies for Israel, Serbia, India (re: Kashmir). What if the minorities in the Muslim countries decided to ask for their own land back, would the Muslim rulers allow it? All the above incidences in Israel, India, Serbia, Russia have one thing in common; the Muslim minorities have just decided they want their own piece of land. Maybe people should look at their own countries and evaluate whether they will give up their land to a minority for example; will the US give up Texas? Will UK give up Bradford? Will Saudi Arabia give up part of its land to its foreign workers?
Dipa Patel, UK

Islamic Chechen terrorists should be destroyed. But it's a pity Russia is paying little attention to civilian casualties. Still, I hope Russian offensive will be successful and law and order will be restored in the republic (if there is law and order somewhere in Russia).
Alex, Israel

Who is the real terrorist - the people who are fighting for freedom and the Russians mercilessly slaughter civilians? Everywhere where Muslims are fighting for their freedom they are branded as terrorists. Kashmir, Palestine, Bosnia, Kosovo and Chechnya are the recent examples. Does anybody in USA and its allies have common sense to realise how much hatred they have spread in the hearts of Muslims for themselves? Islam is a religion of peace. Islam means "peace". People who are fighting for their freedom needs to be supported and encouraged. Where are all the champions of freedom in the world?
Khurrum Mian, Pakistan

History repeats itself 50 years on and the blood of Chechen people is on the hands of all those supporting or funding Putin's cruel war. It is a game of savage politics played on innocent lives.
Aslam Ahmed, UK

The Russians are breaking a number of the Geneva Convention Human Rights Laws. I don't care what justification they may have in their conflict. What they are doing to those people is wrong. Russia is currently involved in peace keeping operations in Bosnia and Kosova. We all know that they stand by and watch the Serb's carry out continuous immoral activities.
They should be removed from all peace keeping operations now. How can we have a force who are on the one hand carrying out atrocities yet on the other are looking to be peace keeping. I want to know what our government is going to do about this.
Warren Mills, England

More power to the Russian troops for fighting terrorism in Chechnya. Once they are done with this rats, the military need to focus on Russian Mafia that is threatening it's own stability.
Kassa Immanuel Gebrekidan, USA

It's quite simple. The point all the Brits keep making is that in Northern Ireland there is an illegal terrorist army, which should not be tolerated. Yet were Britain to act as Russia have done there would be international outrage, why? Because it's wrong.
When I was 15 I was taught that one of the main failures of the league of nations was a reluctance to stand against the actions of the bigger powers. I thought the U.N was supposed to have learned from the past. All we have to do is stop giving them money to prop up their economy.
Then people were talking about the corruption within Chechnya, yet Russia's economy is reportedly 40 odd % illegal. I wouldn't be surprised if the Russian Mafia were supplying the terrorists in the first place.
Adam Dutton, UK

Russia is wrong. I fail to see how waging war on desperate and innocent people at a time as significant as this is wholly unreasonable for a country like Russia. Is the West's reluctance to intervene based on fear that Russia may turn on any that oppose her? Does Yeltsin have full control of what goes on in his country? There are too many variables effecting the situation but it is up to the west to draw the line for humanity sake.
Neal Kalita, UK

I am very sorry about what is going on in Chechnya. Russians are killing innocent people with out reason, only that they are Muslim and minority. Those nazi military are lawless people.
Aden, Somalia

The Chechen are the most brave nation on earth. I am sure that in the end they will win. What happened in Afghanistan, this act of terrorism by Russia resulted in break-up of Russia. What will happen next? Russia is digging its own grave.
Naseer Awan, Pakistan

So Yeltsin has found himself ruler of what is now the most criminalised nation on the planet. Sort out your own Mafia, please, instead of flattering your ethnocentric electorate with the notion that all the crimes in Russia are committed by the Chechens. Nice try, Boris. I wonder what his supporters would have to say if the British tried to stop IRA terrorism by saturation bombing Ireland.
It might come as a surprise but there may well be people in Chechnya itself who would like to put a stop to banditry and extremism. Why not just help them. Oh, sorry, I forgot, they are all Muslims and you have to get them before they get you....
Alistair Hale, UK

It is scary to see such bigotry and hatred in your answers. How come when republics like Georgia and Lithuania declared their independence everyone supported that, but when Chechnya which has been fighting the Russian yoke for 400 years tries to do the same, the response is so different? And how come if terrorism is defined as bombing innocent civilians, when hundreds and thousands are bombed, it has a different name?
Matt Johnson, USA

The Russian bombardment of an entire civilian population purportedly for the crimes of "terrorists" is terrorism itself. The colonialist attitudes that go with it are outdated and barbaric.
Johnny Morten, USA

This brutality war against civilians cannot be justified with any law, Russia should known this war is not for Chechnya but it's a war against Islam, so I am asking Russia, have they forgotten the wounds in Afghanistan.
A.A Mohamed, Somali

All comments assume that such a state of things (huge Russia against poor, small, ill-equipped but brave Chechnya) is given. But nothing has given!!! Russians built their country 1000 years (including tactic missiles, attack helicopters and tanks)....where are Chechen-built missiles, choppers and tanks???...They want to fight¿so let's be a brave guerrilla fighter with a Russian gun and American Stinger anti-aircraft launcher...ha...Chechens lost their history many hundreds years ago...Russia kept their history 1000 years and will keep it be a super-power nation you must became it....without a help from anyone...then you have the right to appeal who's right and who's not...
Yevgeniy Lazarev, Ukraine

Chechens are the most brave I have seen in history. Less than one million people face a super power and are hanging in there. Name me one nation in history that was so small and ill equipped and fought an army about hundred times stronger and bigger than itself. I agree that Chechens have been involved in kidnapping and other crimes, but that should not be a reason to deprive them of their independence. They are a separate nation by language, religion, and race from the Russians. The Russians have no right to keep them in their federation just to suck their oil. Shame on Russians to kill innocent and unarmed civilians in this war.
Shakeel Kouser , USA

The main problem is that Russia is protecting itself, much as Israel and the USA would do. Terrorism must be fought with firepower not negotiation.
Rob, UK

It is imperative to reinforce the state of law in Chechnya. Political resolution will follow the military action. Today there is no Chechen authority to negotiate with. Maskhadov has been allied with warlords that discredit him completely. There are only local Chechen leaders/elders who are successfully involved in negotiations with the federal forces. Thanks to them, some villages and towns are being liberated without fighting. Do people of Chechnya (far from being 100% ethnic Chechens) want a permanent war, slavery, kidnappings, killings, and robbing and to be totally jobless? Do they want to end up with taleban fundamentalism where those warlords were looking? Don't they deserve normal life, jobs, their cities and villages rebuilt - in the way it was before Dudaev-Maskhadov's campaign? The only problem is to get the illegal militants into court.
Alexander Bolshakov, Russia

The EU and USA should put sanctions on Russia, if it is sincere in curtailing terrorism.
Islam, USA

The USA are afraid of Russia and that's why they have not intervened so far. I believe the US and other major powers will turn a blind eye if they know what's good for them, as intervention would lead to disastrous consequences, such as in Kosovo. Any forceful involvement could lead to war with Russia, be it "cold" or any other type.
Oma, Nigeria

It is Russia's internal affair; besides it is the fault of Basayev who's looking for trouble. He will never satisfied until he fulfils his aim to make fundamental Islamic countries in the whole Caucasus region.
Katyusha, Australia

Chechnya is a Russian land - the Russians are fighting for their territorial integrity. The cause is absolutely there - but the means are doubtful.

Serge, Canada
The conflict in Chechnya is as complex as any world hot spot. Much of what others have contributed to this forum is true, from both angles. Russian politicians, I am sure see this as an opportunity to score political points, even at the cost of human lives. At the same time, Chechen rebels have committed many atrocities. Some have written here that Nato should take action and stand against Russia in this matter. This simply is not feasible. The West without question deplores what is happening to the people of Chechnya, but we dare not risk alienating Russia during a time when its democracy is fragile. However, we must do what ever we can diplomatically to try to bring peace to this region.
Mark, USA

One thing that western hypocrites do not understand, is that if Russia does not eliminate bands of terrorists in Chechnya their next target will be countries such as United Kingdom and USA. Vahabbit's meeting in London they were saying "Today Russia, tomorrow USA". Think twice, now you are talking about "humanitarian disaster" in Chechnya, tomorrow you could be talking about humanitarian disaster in Yorkshire or Virginia. Terrorists are a threat to all citizens of the world including Chechen citizens.
Grigory, Russia, now USA

Russia's action in Chechnya is not justified and is illegal. Chechnya and it's people are there because God wants them there, Russia's wishes and actions are irrelevant to God's will and this will be proven in due course.
Abdi Sabrie, USA

Russia seems to be slipping back into the bad old days of intolerance and a lack of any sense of humanitarianism.

Phil Hall, UK
I am deeply saddened by the events in Chechnya. Russia seems to be slipping back into the bad old days of intolerance and a lack of any sense of humanitarianism. It is tempting to compare their actions with that of Nato over the Kosovo situation. But we must remember that Nato acted primarily for humanitarian reasons, not to (re) assert some kind of political dominance over the region concerned. At least Nato did try to resolve the problem diplomatically before resorting to military force. It seems that Russia is now acting in a manner all too characteristic of its past.
Phil Hall, UK

What amazes me about so many of the comments both here and from luminaries, such as Zbinew Brzezinski, is the conclusion that Russia will ultimately destroy itself by attacking Chechnya. With so many restive regional hegemonies in Russia, I think a "let's all get along" attitude would spur separatist violence. By contrast, if the Russian army hammers the kleptocrats controlling Chechnya into submission, then other regions that want independence might be discouraged from following Chechnya's example. Before the second Chechen campaign, Russia was seen as either unable or unwilling to fight. That perception invites trouble.
David, USA

The fighting in Chechnya is a tragedy. And the only solution to the problem is a political one. What you see taking place is an attempt to arrive at a military solution. What is going to happen is that Russia will end up worse off for it. It is a mistake and it is forcing the world back into another cold war. One that nobody wins. One that can cause great sadness and disturb the people. The Russian People are not happy with the Chechen situation and it is going to never be resolved militarily.
Dave, USA

What kind of a species are if we can allow the kind of horrors that have been inflicted upon the Chechen people to continue to be perpetrated without us raising even a finger in token protest? The fact that the entire Chechen nation was exiled to Siberia by Stalin with one third of them dying in the process, doesn't that move us even slightly? Have we also turned a totally blind eye to the horrible tortures against innocent Chechens in the 1994 war. These poor people had their tongues cut off and then forced to drink boiling fluid. Their corpses were then burnt to ashes so that no one would be able to identify them. Yes, this did happen. If we support what Russia is doing, we are unfit to be called humans.
Ajaaz Zainul, USA

Imperialist Russia occupied Chechnya in about 1890. Russia has no right to be there and should by the world community, be ordered out of Chechnya. If Russia had let them alone, there would not had been any problem. To Boris Yeltsin - please order your uncivilised troops out of Chechnya and leave Chechnya alone. Then you will immediately get peace.
Lennart Andersson, Sweden

It seems Russians who are trying to defend their country's policies in Chechnya finally realised they should just sit back and wait for the excessive Russo-phobia to burn out. We are de facto isolated from the rest of the world and look - we're still alive!
Andrej, Russia

Violent means should not be used to resolve conflicts. But nations have continued to do so. The Chechen war maybe an internal matter for Russia. But there is no doubt that Russian rule is going to be frowned upon by every Chechen due to Russia's actions. This is not going to help Russia in the future. Resorting to wars every other year is just a mode used by politicians to divert attention from the basic problems faced by the people. I feel this is the reason President Yeltsin started this war. With such politicians around we will be seeing many wars around the world.
Parvez, India

This is genocide and should be met by international blockade of all Russian goods.

Tony Kimball, USA
Britain did exactly the same in Northern Ireland, Iraq and the former Malay states - also the former Palestine and various other sites. Is it valid to return bloody and inhumane action with bloody and inhumane action? In the end it can only be a personal view, and I accept Ricardo Dekker's views.
Peter Potter, England

They have stolen the Caucasian lands, plundered and squandered their precious resources, enslaved and slaughtered their innocent peoples for hundreds upon hundreds of years; but yet the Russians were never capable of completely destroying the Caucasian peoples and they never will. What the Russians have done is not right. You can turn your heads and look the other way, and let 'might' make 'right', as all the other hypocrites have done. After all, what is humanity to the inhumane? The heroic Caucasians will never give up their ancestral homeland, their struggle for freedom, independence, and human dignity for all peoples and nations. A free and independent Caucasia would be a wonderful thing for the region and indeed for all the world. Give Caucasia back to the Caucasians! What right do the Russians have to tell these autonomous peoples how to live?
Rudolf Ayubovich Shumen, USA

I'm sorry but no human being can sit and watch the pictures of a young boy distraught by the death of his parents and say that the Russians are justified in what they are doing. Also, all those people who have the audacity to compare Nato's action in the Balkans to what the Russians are doing now, sure, it wasn't perfect but remember it was the Serbs slaughtering the Kosovans that we were stopping. They were the ones behaving in the same way as the Russians.
Jon Masters, England

All of you who think it is justified to bomb civilians in Chechnya: Are we supposed to bomb the whole of Ireland to pieces when the Irish "terrorists" strike again?
T.Hassinen, UK

Russia is committing genocide against Chechen people. So the question is: Whether any genocide is justified? I think you know the answer. I saw many people confused by Russian propaganda that tried to portray this war as "anti-terrorist" operation. First of all, Russia did not provide ANY evidence or even serious link between terrorist bombings in Russia and Chechens. No names of suspected immediate executors are called, no plot scenario is pictured. Second, Russia itself promoted crime in Chechnya by economically blockading it (which was against the peace agreement between Russia and Chechnya in 1996), and supporting criminal opposition to the elected leaders of Chechnya. In short, Russia is just killing Chechens because they want to be free and because Russia can not comprehend the principle of freedom for people as well as individuals. In its current state, Russia presents a danger to the humanity as it follows a state policy of chauvinism and terrorism.
Elmar Chakhtakhtinski, Azerbaijan

Any country has a right to defend itself from attacks across its borders. Muslim writers have tried to make this a religious issue, that is not the case here. If the poor helpless Chechen freedom fighters have been making attacks on Russian soil then they should not be surprised by Russian retaliation. It is a shame that our western news services so often look at events so one sided.
Jimmy, US

Yes, I believe Russia has been abusing its powers. Now, at first I was somewhat sceptical and believed that well, maybe Russia is just getting a few terrorists. But, if this were true why launch a full out attack? When this happens you, not the so-called terrorists, become the evil party. Also, I did not understand the fact that they would not let reporters into the action which can only mean they have something to hide and a hidden battle can never be trusted.
Sam, United States

Yes it is justified... And there are many many precedents... Funnily enough when a western superpower decides to march into a country and bomb it to smithereens no one asks whether it is justified. Russia is defending its boarders and the safety of its population. Too bad the Chechen people must all suffer for the extreme acts of numbered terrorists.
Vivien Cooksley, Cyprus

Chechnya is a Muslim state, has always been a Muslim state, but has been occupied by imperialist Russia. Chechens must do whatever is necessary to rule their land, and Russia must respect that Chechens are not Russians, and never will be. There is a greater chance of Russia belonging to Chechnya than Chechnya people ever agreeing to Russian Imperialism.
Amarjit Dhillon, UK

The action of Moscow in Chechnya is justified though the loss of the civilian life is hard to accept. But if we look back every action to curb terrorists and fanaticism results in civilian crisis. We should not forget the civilian cost in Iraq, Kosovo and Kashmir. However hypocrisy of the west and the western media colours them differently. Even the BBC does not provide an unbiased report. With the never ending terrorism, bullying ('Superpower' arrogance!) and biased media we will see many more Chechnya in near future.
Amit , India Now in Japan

Have you forgotten the heads of British and Kiwi mobile telephone engineers in the road ditch not so long ago? The ransom had not been paid. What about charity organisations pulling out of Chechnya? Listen, Russia's regular army (not the weakest army in the World) is fighting for several months the people who are supposed to be civilians or at most guerrillas. Where do those people get their ammunition from to withstand such attacks?
Russia is fighting another regular army, which is not supposed to be there (i.e. illegal). It all happens on the Russian territory. Would any other country tolerate another regular (and very hostile) army on its territory? I suppose not. America does not tolerate it on anybody else's territory. I would never support any aggression, but what happens in Chechnya is not Russia's fault, but Russia's curse.
Claude, Australia

The Russian military are killing Chechens because they are Muslims, and they are weak. If the world will not do anything about these, there will be a third war in this world. Every European labels Islam as criminals. Let me tell you something do you forget Christian terrorists, do you forget what you did in the past and today. Muslim is the true religion and nothing to do with terrorists. Every superpower has a time to fall. I think it is the time for Russia to fall down. The truth has been hidden by the people who don't like peace.
Ismail Adam, Somalia

If brutal military intervention in Kosovo (part of a sovereign Serbian state) was a "moral responsibility" and in the national interests of the United States and Nato, I don't see why Russia should not be left alone sorting out the problems in its own backyard. Once and for all, the United States should accept the fact that other countries have their own national security interests and it is their right to protect them. And most importantly, Russia's critics have to remember that the war in Chechnya this time around enjoys the wide support of the Russian public, something Nato never managed to master during their campaign in Kosovo.
Stan, USA

Many contributors have alluded to the hypocrisy of the West but that is not the issue. Barbarity against civilians, terrorising innocents in order to counter alleged terrorism is wrong. Furthermore no such situation can be treated as the internal affair of a nation; a child slaughtered by its own government suffers just as much as one killed by a foreign power.
Don Leyton, UK

Amid all the international wails and flails, two things Sadako Ogata said on her visit to the war zone last week stand out: (1) There is not currently a humanitarian crisis among the refugees (although one could develop this winter). (2) There is so much bandit activity in Chechenya that aid workers would need protection from the Russian Army.
It seems to me that she has confirmed what the Russian government has been saying. Yes, the Russian army has used rough, even brutal tactics. William Tecumseh Sherman said it long ago: War is hell.
The Russian Army has decided this time to treat the Chechen rebellion as a war and stop sacrificing their young men to the myth that they were just putting down a riot. It's about time. If they carry out this fight the way they are doing, the refugees will be able to go home, Dagestan will no longer be subject to Chechen terrorism, and Russia's borders will again be secure.
James Castro, USA

Reading through all the bombastic rhetoric that's coming out of the West regarding Russian action in Chechnya, I'm beginning to think that all this commotion has nothing to do with the "suffering" refugees and everything to do with chopping up Russia into "manageable" size. Few if any western media outlets have tried to report the real story in Chechnya. None of you talked about the thousands of kidnappings, tortures, and mutilations that WERE perpetrated with the blessing of the Chechen leaders.
What makes this whole thing really shocking is that most of these tortures and killings are documented on video by your brave Chechen "rebels" and these tapes don't lie. Some of these tapes feature children that are as young as six having their fingers cut off with scissors. How come that's not reported in your Western press? These tapes are public domain.
Yaroslav Shmit, Germany

Everyone knows the truth that the Russian invasion of our brave, glorious and beloved Chechnya is a preconceived, pre-set and pre-planned coward act of diverting the attention of the dumb Russian public away from the economic hell they are living in. The Russian leadership is a team of well organised criminals who thought that by invading the brave Chechens they are going to cover their corruption and multi-billion dollars' theft of their nation's wealth.
The Moscow bombings were planned and executed by the ruthless Russian intelligence (former KGB) as was broadcast by the Russian TV. The aim was to emotionally charge the gullible Russian public with blind hatred for the Chechens (which is traditional). Now the rest of our immoral world is trying to debate the justifiability of the Russian crimes!!!
Mosaab, Pakistan

This heavy-handed action should not be tolerated.

D Joe Jordann, UK
Any loss of innocent, civilian life should be deplored. But I also think that the Russian military is NOT deliberately targeting civilians. As pointed out by some, the USA, UK and others in the west would do the same, if faced with a similar problem. The question is do the west honestly want Russia to crush the Chechen terrorists once and for all or do we want this problem to keep going for ever?
To me the hypocrisy shown suggests it is in the interest of the west to see Russia disintegrate slowly but surely, from within. All peace loving nations should have a unified position towards terrorists (or warlords), no matter whether the threat directed towards another country like Russia. The message should be that they will have no sanctuary anywhere in the world.
Parksson, Sweden

This is for Srinivas - Should all Hindus in India be punished severely because some fanatic Hindus are committing heinous atrocities against Christians and Muslims???? I DO NOT think so, only those involved should be severely punished.
Shahid. H, USA

It is the Chechen rebels who are to blame for these tragic events, not the Russian military or leadership

Michael, USA
I think that Nato should take action, for the Russian army is imposing misery on the civilian in Chechnya. The Russians are tyrants and they want to kill innocent Muslims and they make cover-up by saying that are targeting rebel positions. Instead they attack civilians. The US and British are selective when to get involved. For example they go into Kosova (and for Kosova is a Muslim country it has an a). The US and British are friends are allow Boris Yeltsin to ethnically cleanse Chechnya of all the Muslims. The US and British don't want to lose their soldiers, therefore I think they are cowards and are a BIG sham.
ABU, Malaysia

Terrorism should be deplored throughout the world. Although the loss of civilian life is regrettable, it is the Chechen rebels who are to blame for these tragic events, not the Russian military or leadership.
Michael, USA

This is criminal butchery being committed by the Russian Government on the Chechen people who have resisted Russian domination and will continue to do so until their land is liberated once and for all.
Arshed, Canada

Russian control of Chechnya is vital for stability and I don't see anyone else offering a better way forward. Negotiating with people who want to invade your territory just doesn't make sense.
Dean, USA

What Russia did to Chechnya in the past compares very much with what Nazi-Germany did to its neighbours during WW II. More than half of all Chechens were killed 50 years ago, and another 100,000 as recently as 3-5 years ago. Russia has no right to punish the Chechens any more. Rather, Russians should pay for their past (and present) deeds, just as the Germans paid and still pay to the survivors of its crimes.
Martin Sander, Germany

This is an internal affair for Russia. The so-called humanitarian champions in the West should stop being so hypocritical.
Jnana, USA

Russia has the right to secure its own borders

Jonathan Higgins, UK
Russia's policy toward non-Russians has always been agressive - Chechnya is just the latest victim. When the West gives Russia billions of dollars to help to kill Chechens, who is it that is resposible for this policy of genocide?
Jurij Petrakov, Ukraine

How can the Northern Ireland situation possibly be compared to that of the indiscriminate bombing of civilians in Chechnya? No matter what might have been done by a minority of the people, there is no excuse for this kind of military oppression.
Chris Rowe, UK

I live not far from Chechnya and would like to focus on the West's hypocritical approach to Russia's actions. Very few people in the West have ever mentioned the plight of 300,000 ethnic Russians, mainly Cossacks, who were forced to leave Chechnya, though they had lived there for centuries.
Vladimir Krotov, Russian

Your comments during the programme

Attacking innocent people to punish a minority is not an action expected from a country with some form of constitution. Russia has collapsed economically, politically, physically and morally. My heart is with the Chechnyans, civilians and fighters alike.
Ammar Khan, Palestine

Russia's policy toward non-Russians has always been agressive - Chechnya is just the latest victim.

Jurij Petrakov, Ukraine
After the west (NATO) supported the bombing in Kosovo, do they have the moral right to tell Russia not to use force in Chechnya? Why was it OK to use force in Kosovo, with the so-called 'collateral damage'?
Parksson, Sweden

This is not about terrorism. The government is using the military for their own purposes and is looking out for their national interests as well as for the welfare of their people.
Dr Paul Kindlun, USA in Moscow

As a US citizen residing in Belgium, I greatly resent President Clinton's hypocritical interference into Russia's war of self-defence against brazen and undisguised Chechen 'terrorism'.
MP Fleming, US

I think Russia is doing the right thing in destroying the terrorists and protecting their oil and gasses and the USA and the west have no right to condemn them. The west should take a good look at themselves, at what they did in Kosovo and the refugee problem they created before they start critisising.
Nikolas, Australia

I don't agree with the hardline policy of the Russians, but I am afraid that we in the West would make the same mistakes under similar circumstances.
Saibal Mitra

Russia is doing the right thing in destroying the terrorists

Nikolas, Australia
Why is the West talking of 'moral justification'? In Kosovo our governments bombed without considering morals, or even the views of the electorate. Such hypocrisy is typical.
Edmund, UK

The human misery inflicted on the civilian population in Chechnya cannot be justified. Russia has reverted to the Soviet era notion that world power is synonymous with world bully.
Nik, Russia

Your comments before the programme

Stop the misery
Sebastian Fernandes, Canada

The action of Basajev in Dagestan justifies the Russian invasion of Chechnya. But the bombings in Russia (probably NOT committed by Chechens) were perfectly timed for Putin to increase his popularity. The victims of the criminal governments of Russia and Chechnya are the Chechen population and the ordinary Russian soldier.
Bram Trouwborst, The Netherlands

Chechnya has been a hell on earth for its inhabitants with no law and order in the capital. It is the duty of the Russian Duma to make the republic safe for all. It is typical for the West to adopt an indignant stance and to advocate a political solution when a non western nation resolves it's own problems. Why do the US & UK always forget their own horrific records with civilian casualties, e,g Vietnam, Northern Ireland and lately Kosova?
Stephen J Newton, Moldova

Great Chechens blasted four apartment buildings in Russia. What barbaric people those Russians are!
Alex, Singapore

Russians should realize persisting in the policies of bullying everyone will only pour oil onto the fire.

Petr Tuma, Czech Republic
With a history of violent suppression of "problematic" ethnic groups, Russians should finally realize that they will continue to reap what they sowed for some time to come, and that persisting in the policies of bullying everyone will only pour oil onto the fire.
Petr Tuma, Czech Republic

Yes to the greatest extent. Unfortunately it is the population that pays the dearest price.
Russians are moving in by destroying land and people to minimise their losses. But let's be honest; isn't this the same thing that Allies did in WWII (Germany's bombardment, Hiroshima, etc) and Nato in Serbia more recently? Russia is eager to prove that it is strong and after Nato's expansion and the Yugoslavia crisis handle by Nato, it is eager to make a point. Of course as a Greek I cannot but point out the hypocrisy of Nato when comparing Kosovo and Chechnya.
Petros, Switzerland


Absolutely, if some terrorists take over parts of my country and my military says that some rogue neighbour is supporting them, I trust my country's army to completely wipe them out. Granted that killing civilian is not justified. But if citizens of Chechnya cannot control their terrorist guests then they ought to be labelled as "co-conspirators" rather than innocent civilians. Russia didn't mess with independent Chechnya (May 1996), there was a decent state-to-state relationship until Aug 1999 i.e. until it decided to support terrorism inside Russia (Dagestan).
Kosovo and Northern Ireland are different situations, there people are seeking self-determination/independence, which Chechnya had (1996 to 1999) and would have continued to have, had it not had excessive territorial ambitions. I as an independent observer think Russia's actions toward Chechnya are totally justified. But it is imperative that at the end of all this if Chechens ask for independence referendum, they should be allowed to choose for or against independence from Russia.
Shankar, Canada

With Terrorist organisations based in Chechnya, and the breakaway government there not doing anything about it, they are justified. The west (NATO) would do the same, and have done. The only clear difference is that the Russian army is not concerned with how the media view their methods....
Max, UK

It is disgusting to see this carefully strained selection of biased and idiotic anti-Russian delirium. One could think that there was no invasion of Chechens into the Russian territory, no kidnappings and torture, no blown up houses and no proof of all this. I am disappointed. Do you really think the world is so stupid?
Pavel Altuhov, Russia

I hold nothing against Muslims, but those who kill, kidnap, and torture for the sake of their religious fanaticism, greed, and prejudices have to be punished. They hide among civilian population, and innocent people get hurt. But is Russia really to blame? Russia is trying to heal itself from a disease that the rest of misinformed and "civilised" Europe would not have the guts to battle. So be grateful to Russia for inadvertently protecting you.
Vladimir, Ukraine

Were Serbia's actions in Kosovo justified? Was Indonesia's role in East Timor normal? And so on . . . According to these countries, the indigenous population of these regions resisting oppression were terrorists. According to this logic, Britain should invade entire Ireland and bombed every town and city to rubble. Would we justify it and say the Brits are just fighting bunch of thugs and terrorist. I don't think so! Where are our conscience? Where is our humanity? . . . Lost in our little ego-centric self-centred universe!
Irfan Rizvi, USA

We should let the Russians handle their own affairs

Ricardo Dekker, UAE
We should let the Russians handle their own affairs, and not dictate to them from the outside without a good understanding of what's really going on in their country. The recent spate of terrorist bombings that took place killing many innocent Russian citizens can be the first in many steps in trying to understand the reason behind the current crisis. Nobody says we must condone everything they are doing, but at the same time perhaps we can gather some insight.
When you look at current state of affairs in Russia itself, economically, socially and politically. This could well mean a well-planned popularity drive by Mr Boris Yeltsin to keep his walls of power from collapsing. But if the rest of the world really cares about the situation, they have to concentrate mainly on the humanitarian aspect of this war. They must not use the humanitarian issues to manipulate nor to further destabilise the political weaknesses of this country. Because in trying to bring about a peaceful solution to one end of the stick they could ignite a far worse humanitarian crisis in an already vulnerable state.
Ricardo Dekker, UAE

It is as simple as this. The west are criticising Russia's actions in Chechnya, but for one, America is forgetting its invasion of Vietnam, a war which had nothing to do with them, only they wanted to prove to the world that capitalism will always beat communism. But in this case they didn't. Although Russia are no longer communist, America still views them on the same terms as they did during the cold war. They deal with Cuba in the exact same way. I feel that for once, America should mind its own business, and sort out its problems with its own country.
Michael Fox, Republic of Ireland

Russians will die in their own false propaganda. Russia let the world know the truth and allow international observers watch your brutality in Chechnya. I know you can never do that because you are all wrong.
Syed Muaz Khalil, USA

Who is a real terrorist? Russia is killing thousands of innocent lives. Russia has framed Chechnya of bombing apartment buildings in Russia and blasts in Dagestan. There is no proof that Chechens did it. Russia wanted to create a public opinion and has used those blasts to justify their action.
Mljai, India

You would be surprised how many Russians believe it at least likely that it was not Chechens but people "connected with" the Russian government who bombed the apartments in Moscow and Volgodonsk. (The FSB (KGB) was even caught taking real explosives into an apartment block: they said it was a test of the residents' alertness). No one understands why Chechens would do such a thing: they didn't even do it during the 1994-1996 war, so why do it when they had won their de facto independence. One popular theory is that the war is to make Putin popular enough to be elected. If it looks as though he won't win (and protect those around Yeltsin and their property) then more bombs can be expected in April or May, before the June elections. These will be blamed on "Chechen revenge" and be the pretext for cancelling elections. We shall see if this theory proves correct.
MWK, Russia

Yes, if the action of NATO in Kosovo was justified, I do not see why the Russian's is not.
Jeff, USA

There is no justification for bombing civilian populations, however there is a precedent. Bombs have become political tools. Nothing like a small war and a few bombs to divert attention from the ruling parties failures and scandals. Who does Yeltsin think he is NATO Bill?

It seems that you forget that the Chechen Islamists started terrorist attacks against Russian civilians. Anyway the west does not have the moral right to criticise Russia after what Nato did to Yugoslavia. Really why BBC does not publish that the dead Albanians during the Kosovo crises are estimated (by UN officials) to be less than 2500 mostly KLA fighters and not 100,000 that Nato's propaganda was declaring during the bombing? What about the announcement by an independent English law organization that Nato's action was against the international law? But...of course USA and UK have the ability to figure out terrorist groups (PKK, IRA, PLO some years ago) from liberation armies.
Defkalion Tsagarakis, Greece

The USA would be doing exactly the same if California wanted to be independent.

John Atkins, UK
There is not much to choose between the actions of Russia and the USA. Both are nations who don't care about international opinion or international law, and ignore both. The USA would be doing exactly the same if, say, California wanted to be independent.
John Atkins, UK

I think that it is the internal affairs of Russia and no country or international can organisation interrupt it.
N, China

Russian criminals in Chechen republic bomb cities, destroy houses, kill children, women and all signs of life. Russian criminals in the Kremlin say it's an internal matter. It is still a crime against humanity. The world fails once more to stop the real bandits, the Russian animals before another one or more Srebrinica. STOP Russian aggression against Chechen people now.
Musa Said, Canada

I think that the situation in Chechnya is a lot like the American civil war. Part of Russia wants to secede and the rest of Russia won't stand for it. The military action may be an overreaction; it's rather like trying to kill a fly with a cannon. However, until the fighting crosses the borders of other states, or the refugees begin to flood other countries, this is a Russian problem.
Jeff, USA

We have the origins of this problem in Northern Ireland - although it's high time we gave Ireland back to the Irish. There's no trouble in the South is there? Russia needs to make a show of force to secure its satellites. Or give them all away and lose their world position as a powerful nation.
It is not pleasant to see innocent people maimed or killed by Russian troops firing on them apparently often at random. But they are not well-trained soldiers by our standards. Nor do Eastern states appear to have the sensitivities that we have - revealed in Kosovo etc., by their armies.
Unfortunately, whilst being a brave and courageous man, Yeltsin is not a powerful political leader. His replacement may change this sort of nonsense, his continuity of power will not. Nor will it change the gangsters who govern much of Russian power-structures now.
Anthony Carpenter, UK

Recapturing lost territory is one thing. There is no need for the senseless slaughter of innocent civilians. Russia's action is illegal two-fold. They signed a treaty with the Chechens and are now involved in illegal war practice. Killing thousands of civilians in the process surely cannot be justifiable.
Michael SA Dawson, UK

There is no evidence that Russia's actions are helping to resolve this situation in any way at all

Nina, UK
This is not justified because once again innocent people are being killed. Does Russia even have conclusive proof that any of its claims are correct? The Chechens may have done wrong, but no one deserves to be forced to flee from their home and there is no evidence that Russia's actions are helping to resolve this situation in any way at all.
Nina, UK

This matter is strictly internal; irksome though it may be to the "internationalists" who lead us in the West. As has been stated in this venue before, we do not actually live in a democracy. We fall beneath a group that finds a local market terra incognito. This group, dedicated to socialism, cannot pass up the chance to stand on a soapbox and overwhelm us with stupid platitudes. Russia faces a serious threat from the south, and once again absorbs most of the collateral damage incurred through sheltering "civilised" Europe from the oppressors of the east. Europe should be shouting hurrah, not wagging their fingers.
Greg, USA

In most cases actions of that kind are deplorable and justify international intervention. In this case Russians for once are right. Chechnya had become a nest of religious and human criminality. This criminality was tolerated by the elected government and thus indirectly by the people. Many of the criminal activities were directly supported by known terrorist countries or religious terrorist organisations, such cannot be tolerated within Russia's borders or within anybody else's internal borders. You have to distinguish here between the populations striving for independence or autonomy inside a country, as long as their campaign remains inside their particular area. This is not the case in Chechnya and therefore it is different to all other otherwise comparable cases. As a matter of fact of the previous independence movements only IRA and ETA have come in any greater number outside their own area and terrorised completely innocent people. in the rest of the cases it is usually an oppressive government that goes into such territory. Too often the international community stands by. Now it could justifiably do so.
Mikko Toivonen, Finland

It is the duty of the Russian Duma to make the republic safe for all.

Stephen J Newton, Moldova
Russia has a right to hit back after the dastardly acts of terrorism against apartments in Moscow. There is no doubt that the rebels of Chechnya are involved in these attacks. My only regret is that of the refugees, pouring out of Chechnya. It is as the Russian Foreign Office mentioned that it is an internal affair. I only hope that Russia exercises restraint on its march to a possible capture of the Chechnya capital.
Nazim Idroos, Belgium

This military campaign is not a response to a single terrorist attack, a single occasion of Chechen gangs occupying neighbouring territory, or a single kidnapping. Three years passed since the first Chechen campaign, and Maskhadov's government, which Moscow hoped on, proved to be a joke; unleashed gangs kidnap anyone who is not guarded as a Head of State (what scared off all international relief organisations, which now appear very brave in criticising Moscow) and blow up hundredreds of innocent people and their children, when sleeping if they are tried to be punished. Chechnya is an ulcer that needs emergency treatment. Something has to be done before more people would be killed or kidnapped.
Andrej, Russia

Today we live in a world where a Superpower can do anything and, according to USA, does not owe the world any explanation. May God save the poor, the powerless, and the helpless in this New World of 'Superpower' arrogance. I would want to see Russia have a little mercy on Chechnya, but does our opinion matter to a superpower? Moreover, who will want to do battle with a Superpower Russia even if they defy the world?
G. C. Nwaogugu, Nigeria/USA

We should let Russia stabilize this region. A stable Russia is a better partner for world peace than an unstable one.
Bubba, Texas

Does anybody really believe Russia is interested in ethnic cleansing in Chechnya? Less than anyone else, I guess. If it were the case, Chechnya would have already been destroyed completely (that would have probably taken no more than 1 or 2 weeks), without a single human being left there. Does anyone here have enough common sense to assume that the operation took so long so far due to the desire to minimise civilian casualties? Besides, it is ridiculous to read BBC and CNN news carefully omitting facts like humanitarian aid sent to Chechen refugees from all over Russia, "freedom fighters" that kidnapped and killed people from neighbouring Russian regions before a new war began, native population of Gudermes supporting Russian troops, de-facto reign of warlords like Basayev in Chechnya, interrogations for public opinion revealing Russians' sympathy and support for Chechen civil population and refugees. After all the half-truth with carefully selected dark sides of this war that you have published here so far, you are wondering why Russia is concerned about Western pressure. Russia is concerned, partially, thanks to Western mass media that have already let people think of this war as brutal and unfair, which is completely wrong.
Alexey, Russia

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