Chechnya move worries Russian press

Several Russian newspapers have expressed concern about Moscow's decision to end its "counter-terrorism operation" in Chechnya, with some fearing that a dangerous local leader has now become the sole master of the territory

BBC World News

Moscow says Chechnya has stabilised under Kadyrov, but human rights groups accuse his militias of abuses.
Moscow says Chechnya has stabilised under Kadyrov, but human rights groups accuse his militias of abuses.

Some commentators believe that the need to trim military budgets is part of the drive to end the 10-year operation against separatist rebels in the southern republic.

Others worry that the move does not signal the end of the conflict in the republic, but rather that it may spawn new security troubles. Some wonder whether Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov will be able curb separatist aspirations within the territory.

Valeriy Yakov, editor-in-chief of Novyye Izvestiya

The war in Chechnya ended yesterday. The war has knocked on many people's doors and almost everyone has been dreaming of an end to it. But when peace came, practically no-one noticed it. The main thing is that there is no shooting. And there is no war.

Anton Zaritovskiy in daily Izvestiya

Most analysts agree that there is no longer a threat of terrorism in Chechnya. Only the veterans of the Chechen war are voicing concerns. Izvestiya's interviewees have indirectly confirmed that the counter-terrorism operation has been ended partly in order to save budget funds. At the same time the end to the war will provide powerful impetus for the economic development of not only Chechnya, but also its neighbours.

Editorial in daily Nezavisimaya Gazeta

One of the factors that have prompted this step is the financial situation. Owing to the counter-terrorism operation, officers and soldiers had to be paid more money, which the Defence Ministry can no longer afford because of the crisis, it seems. Separatism is used only to attract attention. The fight between local clans for budget money is another matter. The situation here is much more serious.

Daily Kommersant

"It has to be admitted that huge money has been spent without good reason on maintaining a huge number of law-enforcement officers in Chechnya," said a source in the Russian Interior Ministry's Internal Troops headquarters.

Daily Trud

"It was too early to end the counter-terrorism regime in Chechnya. Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov will undoubtedly cope with terrorist incursions, but there is a big question about his ability to rein in separatist sentiments, which are likely to grow now," said Anatoliy Tsyganok, head of Russia's Centre for Military Forecasting.

Timofey Borisov in daily Rossiyskaya Gazeta

The main Chechen terrorist, Doku Umarov, and his well-armed gang have not been caught yet. Bandit underground organisations in the neighbouring republics have not yet been eliminated either. Terrorist attacks continue in the Caucasus, although they happen less often now. The end to the counter-terrorism operation is not a mere formal declaration. It entails the lifting of all travel restrictions in the republic. Now anyone, even a foreigner, can come to Chechnya and they won't need any special permit, only a visa.

Vadim Rechkalov in daily Moskovskiy Komsomolets

The problem is that since midnight on 16 April someone who cannot be trusted has become the sole master of Chechnya. If he was an enemy, everything would be much simpler. But Ramzan is a Hero of Russia and a personal friend of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. A dangerous friend.

Editorial in business daily Vedomosti

Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov has a special relationship with Moscow. He makes an effort to show his loyalty - they make an effort to show their trust. He has had a lot of success in pacifying and rebuilding the republic. At the same time the special regime was giving Chechnya certain privileges. Many things were being ignored because of the war. It is time now to make a new pact.

Ivan Sukhov in daily Vremya Novostey

The end of the counter-terrorism operation is another stone in the pedestal of the people's love for Ramzan Kadyrov. It's true that he asked for the operation to be ended on 1 April. But he only had to wait for two weeks before it became clear: the Kremlin is still very attentive to what the Chechen president has to say.

Dmitriy Balburov in daily Gazeta

The counter-terrorism operations will really end when Russia's 'soft power' wins and 'they' themselves will want to join 'us'.

17 April 2009 — Return to cover.
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