Feature

Russia: Chechnya displays its independence

Chechnya is independent in all but name, said Stanislav Belkovsky in Moskovsky Komsomolets.

Stanislav BelkovskyMoskovsky Komsomolets

Let’s be honest: Russia “was defeated in the Chechen wars,” said Stanislav Belkovsky. Russia started waging its first war against the separatist province in 1994, when Boris Yeltsin was president; the second war started in 1999, “in order to put Vladimir Putin into the Kremlin.” The history books claim Russia won these wars, destroying the Islamist insurgency and retaining Chechnya within the Russian Federation. But in reality, Chechnya “behaves like the winner.”

It exacts tribute in the form of massive federal aid that pays for 90 percent of Chechnya’s budget, while “taking no orders from the federal center.” Last year, a Kremlin official dared to demand financial statements from Chechnya’s strongman, Ramzan Kadyrov. But once bombs went off in Moscow’s metro, killing dozens, the Kremlin “stopped being such a nuisance.” So while Russian laws don’t count in Chechnya, Chechen justice does operate in Russia: Anyone Kadyrov wants dead manages to “get murdered right in central Moscow,” including a Russian officer just last week. Chechnya is independent in all but name. Yet why not actually give it independence? We’d certainly save a lot of money.

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