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SLUG: 7-36932 Dateline: Roots of Russia-Chechnya Conflict
DATE:
NOTE NUMBER:

DATE=11-18-02

TYPE=Dateline

NUMBER=7-36932

TITLE=Roots of Russia-Chechnya Conflict

BYLINE=Carol Castiel

TELEPHONE=(202) 619-1101

DATELINE=Washington

EDITOR=Neal Lavon

CONTENT=

DISK: DATELINE THEME [PLAYED IN STUDIO, FADED UNDER DATELINE HOST VOICE OR PROGRAMMING MATERIAL]

HOST: The hostage-taking tragedy in Moscow last month brought the long-simmering conflict between Russia and the breakaway republic of Chechnya back into world headlines. As Carol Castiel reports on this edition of Dateline, the seizure of a Moscow theater by Chechen rebels has prompted an even greater crackdown on Chechnya by Russia. And it may have decreased any immediate prospects for peace in the war-torn region.

CC: The Chechen rebels who stormed the Moscow theater were demanding an end to the war in Chechnya. The tragic event resulted in the deaths of most of the fifty rebels and 128 of the more than 750 hostages. According to Batuchan, a Chechen free-lance journalist, many ordinary Chechens condemned the hostage-taking because it only served to harden Russia's position against the beleaguered Chechnya.

TAPE: CUT 1 BATUCHAN :13

IN: "This action ..OUT: against civilians."

CC: Nonetheless, Batuchan says even if much of the Chechen population condemned the guerrillas' tactics, they sympathized with their cause. Batuchan says this is because in its quest to target the rebels, the Russian military has killed and brutalized many civilians during the eight years of conflict.

TAPE: CUT 2 BATUCHAN :27

IN: Russian troops.. OUT:..guerrilla methods."

CC: Batuchan explains that the militants who seized the hostages do not reflect the philosophy of the larger separatist movement led by Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov. Rather, he says that many were relatives of those who have died at the hands of Russian soldiers.

TAPE: CUT 3 BATUCHAN :31

IN: This group was." OUT: Russian authority.

CC: Since the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991, Chechnya, a predominantly Muslim republic located in the Caucasus, declared its independence from Russia. Russia tried but failed to regain control of Chechnya in a war that lasted from 1994-1996. The hostagetaking caused many Russians to take a more critical look at the latest war which began in 1999 and has killed about 4,500 Russian soldiers and tens of thousands of Chechens. Russia currently has approximately 80,000 troops in Chechnya.

Since the terrorist attacks of September 11th, Russian authorities have used the global war against terrorism to justify a harsh crackdown on Chechen rebels. As Andrei Piontovsky, the Director of the Center for Strategic Studies in Moscow says, by characterizing the rebels as terrorists, the Russians have rejected a negotiated solution in favor of a military approach.

TAPE: CUT 4 PIONTOVSKY :22

IN: Moscow rejects.." OUT: with terrorists.

CC: Nonetheless, as Andrei Piontovsky points out, the conflict between Russia and Chechnya should not be viewed exclusively through the lens of the global fight against terrorism.

TAPE: CUT 5 PIONTOVSKY :32

IN: "It will be.. OUT: Russian empire."

CC: Anatol Lieven [LEEVEN] is senior associate in the Russian and Eurasian Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace agrees. He agrees with Andrei Piontovsky that the roots of the Russian-Chechen conflict stem from the nineteenth century.

TAPE: CUT 6 LIEVEN :59

IN: "The ultimate." OUT: declare independence."

CC: Chechen journalist Batuchan states that the military tactics used by Russia to subdue other regions simply did not work in Chechnya.

TAPE: CUT 7 BATUCHAN :30

IN: "When Moscow.OUT: unacceptable for them."

CC: Anatol Lieven further explains how Russia's withdrawal from the first war induced a radicalization of the Chechen cause and saw the introduction of an international Islamist dimension.

TAPE: CUT 8 LIEVEN :27

IN: The destruction." OUT: a nightmare."

CC: The nightmare has resulted in the total destruction of the Chechen capital Grozny and a collapse of the local economy. Free-lance journalist Batuchan says widespread despair has gripped the Chechen people. He says that the cumulative effect of the war has also hardened Chechens' attitudes about a possible solution to the conflict.

TAPE: CUT 9 BATUCHAN :32

IN: Before the first. OUT: years ago.

CC: Indeed, analyst Anatol Lieven says the Russian-Chechen conflict resembles the classic rebellion of a province against a central power and explains why Russia felt the need to intervene militarily in the first place in 1994.

TAPE: CUT 10 LIEVEN :32

IN: There are.OUT: let it go."

CC: Initially the Russian government was concerned about its territorial integrity. It feared a domino effect in which other autonomous republics would copy Chechnya's demands. Now, however, Moscow the primary reason Moscow does not want to let Chechnya go is more out of the fear that it could be used as a launching pad for the export of violence outside its own borders.

Nonetheless, even though Russian President Vladimir Putin seems bent on a military approach, a wide-range of Russian public opinion from human rights activists to the mainstream political establishment, reflects a preference for a peaceful settlement. Again, Andrei Piontovsky.

TAPE: CUT 11 PIONTOVSKY :25

IN: More and more.OUT: political establishment.

CC: Despite growing public sentiment in favor of negotiations, most analysts agree that as long as Moscow links the war in Chechnya with the global war against terrorism, a political solution to the centuries-old-conflict is a long way off. For Dateline, I'm Carol Castiel.

MUSIC: RIMSKY-KORSAKOV SHEHERAZADE



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