White House Turned Chechen President Down

America and Europe still believe that Russia must conduct negotiations with Chechens

The tragic events in Moscow have proved it again that there is no specific nation for terrorism.  The Chechen  gunmen (noble rebels, as the West thinks about them) are the same terrorists like Bin Laden and the like.  The hostage crisis in Moscow made the West  have another look on the Chechen issue in Russia.  The USA has been characterizing the situation in the Chechen republic as  an internal Russian problem, criticizing the actions of Putin’s administration.

Europe had  the similar position about Chechnya. On the one hand, Europeans believed that Chechnya was a home issue of Russia, but on the other hand, they were in active contacts with Chechen emissaries. We will see, what is going to happen with Europe about this situation and let’s  get back to the United States.

The USA’s position concerning Chechnya is more actual  for Russia, than the position of certain European countries, like Denmark, for instance. It is an open secret  that the States has been contacting  fugitive Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov for a long period of time. America did not stop doing it even during the time of the hostage crisis in Moscow.  Washington did not make it all a big secret, though. It goes without saying that Russia did not like those links between the States and the Chechen “president.”

US Ambassador to Russia Alexander Vershbow  said in the beginning of September that  Americans were sceptic about Aslan Maskhadov. However, the States did not exclude an opportunity to negotiate with him.  As it became known  now,   the preparation of the terrorist act  was in full swing.

The Americans only had to push Maskhadov and others like him away after the events that have recently happened in Moscow. Spokespeople for the American administration harshly denounced Aslan Maskhadov and called him “damaged goods,” as it was written in the Los Angeles Times.

Until recently, the American government perceived the fugitive Chechen president as a potential partner  for negotiations with Moscow.  However, after hundreds of people were taken hostages in the music theatre of Moscow,  Maskhadov may not hope for his participation  in the peace process.

An anonymous American spokesman has recently stated that there was no evidence to prove Al-Qaida’s connection with the hostage-taking act of terrorism in Moscow. However,  a spokesman added that Al-Qaida’s instructors took part  in the training of  Chechen guerrillas in Afghanistan and in the Pankisi Gorge of Georgia. The Americans are really concerned about Maskhadov’s contacts with Shamil Basayev. The USA has considered Shamil Basayev a terrorist since 1995 after a Chechen gang took over a hospital in the Russian town of Budyonovsk. An American official stated that Maskhadov was completely deprived of legitimacy: “He either does not want or can not fight with terrorists,” – said an anonymous American official.

Well, it  is a good thing to know about the USA’s attitude to Aslan Maskhadov. However, America still believes  that there should be other people found in Chechnya as an alternative to Basayev and Maskhadov.  In the USA’s opinion,  the Russian government could conduct negotiations with those other people.

After the act of terrorism in Moscow the Russian government asked the White House to include several Chechen groups on the list of terrorist organizations.  Washington promised to consider that issue, being sympathetic with Russia's grief. As the Russian people say, “wait three years to get, what you were promised.” State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said that the question pertaining to Chechen groups required the detailed analysis and study of a lot of information. Adding those groups on the list of terrorist organizations would be followed with freezing their financial means, prohibiting any material help for them, refusing visas to their leaders and members.

Dmitry Chirkin

Translated by Dmitry Sudakov

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Author`s name Olga Savka