The Polish newspaper Rzeczpospolita published an article on September 20, 2010, in which it was said that the Kremlin had used bombs, artillery fire and tortures to exterminate a quarter of a million of Chechens. It is not a typo: according to the article, it goes about 250,000 people.
It is an open secret that many in Poland treat Russia negatively. The fact that the Russophobic part of the Polish society sympathizes with Chechen terrorists does not surprise anyone either. There are many instances to prove that. The representative of so-called Ichkeria, a non-existent state, is situated in the center of Warsaw for many years in a 30-storeyed building. There is also Dudayev's Square, which appeared in the city as a result of the efforts taken by the former Warsaw mayor and late President Lech Kaczynski. Ichkerian media outlets broadcast their programs from Warsaw and Krakow.
One may also recollect the fact, when a crowd of young people attached the Consulate Office of the Russian Federation in Poznan on February 23, 2000, during the second Chechen campaign. The aggressive men treaded on the Russian flag and chanted "Shamil Basayev!" In 2005, spokespeople for Poland's Foreign Affairs Ministry stated that the liquidation of Aslan Maskhadov was not only a crime, but a big political mistake that Russia had made.
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Stanislaw Lem, a well-known Polish writer, justified terrorist acts shortly before his death. He once said that he was on the side of the Chechens although he could understand the grief of the Russian people, who were mourning their loved ones. The weak, Lem said, had a right to use the methods that were not stipulated by international conventions.
"If it turned out all of a sudden that all nuclear weapons in the world were no use, grand changes would occur in world politics. There would be no fear of nuclear terrorists, and Russia would be considered as an enormous landfill," he also said.
The recent World Chechen Congress, which took place in Poland, and the arrival of Akhmed Zakaeyv in Warsaw, the emissary of Chechen gunmen, became yet another example of anti-Russian sentiments in the Polish society. Russia put Zakayev on international wanted list, but Polish law-enforcement agencies arrested him just for several hours.
The Polish press is a separate topic for discussion. For more than 15 years already the nation's media have been flagellating Russia for "oppressing and destroying" the Chechens. In the beginning of April, Rzeczpospolita published an interview with US Sovietologist Richard Pipes. The article was titled "Russia must give independence to the Chechens. After the Moscow subway bombings of March 29th, the newspaper published an article titled "Caucasian terrorism nurtured by Moscow."
Let's look at the materials of 2004. Several days after the monstrous terrorist act in Beslan, Rzeczpospolita published two articles about Russia: "Criminal ally" and "The triumph of Russian imperialism." Not a word of compassion was said about the country which fell victim to a terrorist attack. Similar publications were made after the hostage crisis in the Moscow music theater and other terrorist attacks organized by Caucasian gunmen.
Then, on September 20, 2010, Rzeczpospolita incidentally messed up territory's population and Chechens by nationality having said that the Russian authorities supposedly exterminated 250,000 Chechens. The authors of the article simply compared the data of population censuses conducted in 1989 and in 2002 and came to conclusion that the population of Chechnya had decreased. Facts speak of something absolutely different, though.
Let's start with saying that in 1989, the population census was conducted not in Chechnya, but in Checheno-Ingushetia. Moreover, there were hundreds of thousands of Russians living there, as well as people of other nationalities. Today, Ingushetia is a separate republic with the 300,000-strong population. Chechnya is populated by approximately 1 million people. Hundreds of thousands of Chechens live in other regions of Russia too.
Now let's tell our Polish colleagues how the population was decreasing in those republics. The share of Russians in the population of the Northern Caucasus republics dropped from 26 to 15 percent during the time period between the two censuses. According to demographers, 86 percent of the reduction of the Russian population in the Caucasus occurred as a result of migration outflow from those territories.
Chechnya and Ingushetia had de facto became mono-national territories already by 2000. The migration of Russians in other republics of the region still continues. No matter how the Poles might want to find a quarter of a million of victims, the Chechen population has been growing steadily. According to statistics, the number of Chechens (and Ingushetians) in the Russian empire and in the USSR made up 272,000 people in 1897, 393,000 in 1926, 500,000 in 1939, 525,000 in 1959, 770,000 in 1970, 942,000 in 1979 and 1.114,000 in 1989. According to the results of the population census of 2002, the number of Chechens and Ingushetians made up 1.773,000 people.
Thus, demography shows that the number of Chechens in Russia has been growing. Could this happen if Russia was determined to exterminate them as the above-mentioned Polish newspaper said?
Poland, just like other countries in the West, periodically claims that the Russians oppress the Chechens. Apparently, it is not about the Chechens themselves, it is a matter of ideology. Needless to say that the Western media do not pay any attention to Chechnya's neighbor, Ingushetia.
Europe, especially Poland, has always disliked Russia, but has never been straightforward about it. Just google: "European court in Strasbourg Chechens" and you will see how many cases against Russia have been won. Many of those cases are based on doubtful facts.
Governments realize that they go too far at times. Some pretend being offended, others gain profit from accusing Russia of causing offence. The Polish media still say that it was Russia's Federal Security Bureau that killed Lech Kaczynski. Others say that the USSR and Nazi Germany started WWII. Articles about the extermination of the Chechens by the Kremlin is just another label that the West - Poland in this particular case - hangs on Russia.