Pankissi Gorge as zone of US state interests

State Duma deputy from Chechnya, Aslambek Aslakhanov answers questions of PRAVDA.Ru correspondent.

Q. Aslambek, in your view, does the Georgian government influence the events in Pankissi Gorge?

A. I would answer in following way. The situation in Pankissi Gorge influences Georgia’s political steps. Americans’ appearance in Georgia and this region were not a surprise for that who takes interest in Georgia. The question is that representatives of US force structures behave as if the whole world is their colony, zone of their interests. Some politicians have apprehension that military opposition of the Cold War will return again. There is one more apprehension based on the fact that ex-Warsaw Treaty members rushed to NATO, while this opens our borders. Of course, Russia is not interested in NATO’s presence in Caucasus and all the more in Georgia, on the border with Chechnya, where people, mostly civilians, are still being killed. The Georgian government if forced to take measures corresponding with the state’s interests. Russia, in its turn, also will take measures corresponding with its interests. Now, in Georgia, only US instructors are said to have appeared who will train commandos. This is the right of any state. Though, there is comprehension that after having prepared its Special Force, Georgia will try to get rebellious territories (Abkhazia, South Osetia) back in force way. Of course, US military’s presence in Georgia cannot better relations between Russia and Georgia.

Q. What do you think, could bin Laden be connected with these militants, for Muslims have always been brothers to each other?

A. Unfortunately, this is not so. Muslims, as well as representatives of other religions, during their history settled scores with each other in bloody way, and this had nothing to do with the belief. Now, all Chechens are called militants, bandits and terrorists, the whole nation, including women and children, has this label. Though, we thank Allah that despite all efforts to cause a clash between Chechen Muslims, while dividing them to clans, to Maskhadov’s supporters and opponents, we will not launch a civil war in Chechnya which is to desired for its enemies. And afterward, I cannot understand what militants you mean. Some people state that in Pankissi Gorge, there are about 300 militants with Gelaev at the head, others state that Gelaev has left the gorge, while only about several dozens of Chechens remain with weapon only to defend themselves and their relatives. This could be endlessly argued about. Where is the truth? I can answer your question only with “no.” Because I cannot imagine Gelaev with bin Laden. As well known, Gelaev and his militants have been accused of anything, but not of terrorism. Second, about brotherly relations between Muslims. For your information, Muslims live in Iraq and Iran, but so much blood was shed only for small pieces of the territory. In your view, are Kurds and Turks Muslims? Of course, yes. And you know, how they show their “love” to each other? Q. Is it possible that somebody from Russian leadership is interested in this conflict (for, there is oil, money and stars on straps)?

Q. Undoubtedly, there are people interested in this war. There are certain circles, who are very influential in Russian society. They do not want to stop the war in Chechnya, because in Chechnya, there is oil, people are being trafficked in, relic woods are being stolen and removed from the republic. With literally “proletarian” hatred, the city of Grozny and some other settlements of Chechnya were destroyed, while means apportioned for their restoration are not enough for these aims, but enough to be stolen. Great amount of private properties and valuables, including furniture, house equipment, carpets were removed from Chechnya, because many refugees simply left their properties and went to different regions of the country. Now, there is another system with criminal title “mopping up.” In these actions, a settlement is being encircled for several days and afterwards, real marauding takes place. Participants of so-called “mopping up” will return home with the feeling of permissiveness and impunity. And how will they accustom to peaceful life? Our state made no conclusions after the war in Afghanistan. How many soldiers and officers who gave their best years to service to their country and who did betray it, became needless and did not receive what had been promised to them! They even were blamed by that ones who had sent them to that country, saying that they had not been sent there. As if they simply decided on themselves to go there for a picnic. Without doubt, the same fate expects today’s officers and soldiers. Let us take for example Chechen war of 1994-1996. After that war, many officers had to leave the service in law-enforcement bodies and in the army and never found their place in the society. So, they were betrayed again. Q.What do you suppose, is criminality always international?

A. This is common truth. A person who intentionally goes to a crime for his profit is indifferent whom he must attack. The only aim is gain. So it is right, that “criminality does not have nationality.”

Q. One of my friends working for the State Duma said that our special services had overslept everything, that NATO’s troops intend to enter Georgia. Is it so?

A. That is the duty of special services to know too much. So they do and inform their leadership, according to the President and the government’s reaction. The President knew this and his reaction to it was calm and quiet. If even military specialists arrived in a neighbouring country, Russia hardly will declare war to Georgia or the US.

Q. If Abkhazia’s independence is recognized by Russia, could a conflict take place again between Georgia and Abkhazia?

A. There will be no conflict, because neither Russia nor other states will consider neither Abkhazia nor South Osetia nor Chechnya as independent states. There are not many states in the world which do not have territorial problems at all. For example, in France, there is the problem of Corsica, in Great Britain – the problem of Northern Ireland, of Scotland, in Turkey – the problem of Kurds, in the US - six states tried to get independence, though in vain, in Canada – Quebec demands independence etc. The states are ready to release violence, but not territories.

Q. Was presence of peace-makers in Georgia and Abkhazia somebody’s test of strength?

A. Why? The peace-makers are there. What the people think about them, could be concluded from reaction of population of South Osetia, Abkhazia and some settlements of Georgia, when they thanked the peace-makers and addressed to all official channels asking for the peace-makers not to leave them. We have seen peace-makers’ activity in Yugoslavia. If Georgia asks to enter NATO’s peace-makers into its territory, I am sure of Russia being against it. In my view, this will be an attempt of once-friendly nation to ruin our too brittle relations.

Q. Who, you think, did organized the terrorist acts in Moscow and Budenovsk?

A. I am sure, that were not Chechens. Chechens were declared executors of the explosion, even before the experts investigated the explosives. I demanded and asked at my press-conferences and in the press to create a state commission to investigate that mysterious explosions. In that house people of too low means lived. Such citizens’ death excites compassion and calls to revenge. If that had been houses of so-called “new Russians,” people would have gloated over their misfortunes: they certainly had stolen their money, so God punished them. I still demand creating this commission. What are my reasons? First, the examination will rehabilitate the slandered people and call the real guilty, who must be responsible for the evil. Not everybody knows, that so-called “Chechen scent” has fully failed. Great efforts of the investigation were in vain. Though while carrying out this investigation, too many violations of the Constitution were committed against the accused people, especially if that were Chechens. After the decision was taken, that the terrorist act had been committed by Chechens, every Chechen was suspected of it, including women and children. Almost every detention was accompanied with finding false weapon, drug or ammunition, so imprisonment expected the victim of that lawless action, independently on his participation or non-participation in the terrorist act. There are thousands of the sentenced to imprisonment within these years (1999-2001). So, while insisting on creation of the state commission, I do not account much on real masterminds and executors of the terrorist act to be found. Though, I suppose this to be the duty of any honest person to persuade of such a commission’s creation, independently on the suspects’ nationality as if implicated in such terrorist acts, to release innocent people. Idle talks of some politicians who execute political arias according to band-master of their financial donor has its roots: who pays that orders music. This investigation is not a political party, but first of all rescuing of innocent people and finding real masterminds. The terrorist acts were committed professionally, for the first time, RDX was used, which was never used before. Of course that were professionals who committed this terrorist act. Secrets cause rumours and legends. “I’s” should be dotted in this story. People must know that punishment is inevitable for masterminds and executors in any situation. Aslambek Aslakhanov was intervied by Ilya Tarasov PRAVDA.Ru

Translated by Vera Solovieva

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