Bringing up the Chechen Problem in Europe is Totally Impossible
According to the weekly Ukrainian digest “Den (The Day)”, in the beginning of October, Krystyna Kurczab-Redlich, a prominent Polish journalist was in Kiev to meet her Ukrainian readers at a bookstore. During this visit, she pointed out important things relating to Russia and Chechnya.
Polish journalist Krystyna Kurczab-Redlich spent 14 years in Russia working as a correspondent for various Polish media outlets. After arriving in Moscow in 1990, she quickly immersed herself in the Russian political scene. During this time she frequently tra¬veled to Chechnya, often filming material there. She has received awards for her journalistic activities and in 2005, the Helsinki foundation, Amnesty International and the Chechen organization “The Echo of War”, nominated her for the Nobel Peace Prize. Her take on the Russian reality can be found in her two books, “Pandora’s Box (Pandrioszka)” and “Banging Your Head Against the Kremlin Wall (Głową o mur Kremla)”. Six months ago, both books were translated into Ukrainian, and thus she visited the Ukraine to meet with her readers.
“We have recently observed a kind of ‘Putinization’ of the world’s politics. After the EU became Russia’s economic partner, Europe stopped noticing the violation of human rights and assault on democracy in that country. You can easily find information on oppression and suffering in Iran or other countries, but not in Russia. Russia is a taboo country. For instance, bringing up the Chechen problem in European structures is totally impossible. European politicians would rather not interfere with the social and political processes taking place in Russia, even if they are undemocratic and violate human rights – it solves economic problems and facilitates cooperation with Russian leaders,” said Krystyna Kurczab-Redlich.
She believes that the standards of political journalism are going down, in Poland especially, while journalistic approaches to specific problems have become too superficial. For instance, journalists will only speak about Russia when it “kicks” Poland somehow, but even in that case “Russia” means the Kremlin rather than Russians or the opposition. No channel dares make an honest report on Chechnya.
The author believes that after September 11, 2001, Vladimir Putin was easily able to paint the Chechens’ struggle for independence as international terrorism, both in Russian minds and internationally.
In her eyes, the true Russian – Chechen war is unknown to the vast majority of Russians, and it is very difficult to get knowledge about it. The author maintains that the Chechens were most anxious to avoid this war in the first place, and only wanted independence — but not in terms of a different social policy, or a separate currency. It was rather in terms of the right to self-determination.
Few know today that after the first Russian – Chechen war was over in 1996, the problem of Wahhabism did not exist in Chechnya. Chechens adhered to secular Islam, and their women did not wear face veils. In fact, Wahhabism, which is contrary to Chechen traditions, appeared only in 1999, and not without some promotion on the part of Russian secret services. The Polish journalist maintains that Chechens did not want a civil war. It was artificially imposed on them.
In Banging Your Head… the pages on the Russian – Chechen war and acts of terror in Russia are the most horrible. Her statistics show that the 200,000 Chechens killed in “restoring constitutional order”, were mostly civilians. During the meeting with Ukrainian readers, Kurczab-Redlich gave a detailed account of the act of terrorism at the Dubrovka Theater Center: “The entire Nord-Ost thing was prepared, because the President of Chechen Republic Ichkeria, Aslan Maskhadov had been successfully conducted talks in Sweden, Great Britain, and Liechtenstein. He asked European leaders to help organize a dialog with the Kremlin and put an end to the terrorizing of Chechens. Maskhadov himself made several attempts to talk to Putin. In October, 2002, 147 members of European parliament demanded a peace treaty be signed with Chechnya. The peace treaty would give Europeans free access to Chechnya. This was not to be allowed and so Nord-Ost suddenly occurs. However, anyone who has at least a superficial idea of Chechen traditions will understand that it was rather a stage act than an act of terrorism. Besides, a question suggests itself: if gas was used, why were the terrorists killed, and the possibility to find the mastermind of this act of terrorism was virtually lost?”
*Text was translated by Waynakh Online and edited by Michael Capobianco