Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Chechens

As apt as I am in trying to keep up with local (i.e. Polish) news, I ran across some headlines that Chechen exiles would be hosting a conference right outside of Warsaw.
For those of you who don't remember or don't care, Chechnya is a republic in the Northern Caucuses.  It is internationally recognized as sovereign Russian territory, but has been locked in struggle against Russia for independence.  The First Chechen War, fought between 1994 and 1996, ended with nominal Chechen independence; although, it wasn't recognized internationally.  Chechnya, ravaged by war and strife, began a downward spiral into tribal warfare and banditry that made a hard life even more miserable.  Everything that was not destroyed in the first war was leveled in the second.  The re-invaded Chechnya became the shithole that nobody knew or cared about.  Imagine a place a little bit bigger than Connecticut bearing the brunt of a full Russian invasion.  Since then, things have cooled down slightly, but there is still a smoldering violence, and a bitterly oppressive government that is run more like a mafia than an actual mandate from the masses.  This is all boiled down for easy digestion; there's more to the story, but this is the gist of it.
My interest in Chechnya was piqued when I read Arkady Babchenko's One Soldier's War.  It's a harrowing account of Babchenko's two tours of duty (one in the first war as a conscript, one in the second as a professional soldier) in Chechnya.  Seeing the war through a soldier of the Russian Federation's eyes was a bit moving and a bit disturbing.  His recounts of his suffering at the hands of his own comrades are stomach-churning.  Babchenko later went on to become a journalist and now writes for the independent Novaya Gazeta, a newspaper funded in part by Mikhail Gorbachev.
Babchenko's fellow journalist, Anna Politkovskaya, wrote several books on Chechnya, one of which I read, A Small Corner of Hell: Dispatches From Chechnya.  One Small Corner of Hell really exposed the horrors inflicted upon Chechnya and the Chechen people.  It condemned the Chechen resistance as not looking out for the actual needs of the people, but saved the most condemnation for the Russian military and government for their heinous and willful crimes.  Politkovskaya was a victim of death threats and intimidation, which eventually led to her assassination (as of yet, no one has been convicted.)  Her familiarity with the Chechens and their cause led her to be a negotiator in the Moscow Theater Siege, which didn't end well.  One of her memorable quotes is an angry young terrorist saying, "You live quite well here!  We live in the forest.  But you'll see!"
So, when thinking of a ravaged place seeded with unexploded ordinance, corrupt officials, bandits, environmental harm, and a brewing pot for jihad, think of Chechnya.  It's the place you're not going to go to vacation even if it's all-expenses-paid.  Better spots include: Pakistan's Swat Valley, Pripyat, Monterrey (Mexico), Rio's City of God, and just about anywhere else.

Anyway, the Polish police arrested Akhmed Zakayev in Warsaw the other day.  Zakayev is wanted on an international arrest warrant.  The Poles are letting the courts decide what to do with him for now, i.e. send him to Russia (which Russia is demanding), or let him go.  It's doubtful that he would meet his doom in Russia, but he most likely would be sent to prison for the rest of his life.  Poland did extradite the alleged Israeli spy to Germany to face charges, but I'm not too sure how this one is going to play out.
One interesting thing, so I've heard, is that Russia alleges that Polish GROM MANPADS (Man-Portable Anti-Air Defense Systems) were found in Chechnya.  Poland denies this and claims Russia was just being a dick and placed them there themselves, which I wouldn't put past Russia.

9 comments:

David said...

Showing my daily support,I really NEED yours aswell!

Epic Fitness said...

Haha great post sir

The Alaskan Reviewer said...

I think the president of Poland has already said he would highly doubt the extradition to Russia. But the world of politics is a funny one!

PolishMeKnob said...

Well, one never knows really. And relations with Russia were just beginning to warm! Tusk's government is more angled towards appeasement and reaching out (I highly doubt that the Kaczynscy would ever hand over the Chechens.)

Anonymous said...

Extradition to Great Britain is considered (where he came from), not to Russia.

Still, Poland shouldn't do this IMHO - Russia would just do one friendly sign, and require more next time. No reason to be traitor for some Putin compliments.

BTW - Poland shouldn't have given a Visa to Zakhajew, if we didn't wanted him here.

Maybe it was "hot potato" thrown to PO by PIS? I've heard PIS member invited Zakhajev to this congress.

Polish public opinion is on Chechens side, mostly.

Michaelangelo said...

Russia will be Russia man. So will he be sent to Britain, stay in Poland, or be extradited to Russia. Anyways,

Much love and a lil currency support going your way
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PolishMeKnob said...

I always support.

Anyway, Poland's not going to extradite Zakayev. Russia's pretty pissed.

Miss Hali said...

I love reading articles with information like this. I'm going to keep up-to-date with your blog.

jakebud said...

Showing some support and I hope to get some too