Update: This post refers to Shamil Basayev’s interview with Channel 4 news in February 2005. If you are coming to this post looking for news of Shamil Basayev’s ABC interview, check out my brief report here.
"In order to stop the genocide, we will stop at nothing."
These were the chilling words of Shamil Basayev in an interview broadcast less than an hour ago (but recorded in mid-January) on Channel 4 in England.
I’ve just sat through the Channel 4 broadcast, which showed edited excerpts from an hour-long interview. My first impressions are that, despite rumours of ill health, he looks in relatively good shape, although as he was seated this is hard to tell for sure. His mental health though, I’m not so sure. What, really, can you make of a man who talks impassively of the deaths of hundreds of children while sitting cradling a grenade launcher and wearing a shirt prominently displaying the logo "anti-terror"?
The basics of what he said were:
- Russia is to blame for the deaths of children in Beslan – troops firing flamethrowers caused the roof to collapse, he alleges. He was so naive as to be "shocked" by the outcome.
- All Russians are fair game in his war.
- His definition of "peaceful" people are those who do not pay taxes to pay for the war against Chechnya. I’m not sure who told him that Russian children pay taxes.
- He is planning more Beslan-style operations.
The interview may well have been timed to co-incide with yesterday’s unilateral announcement of a ceasefire by Chechen rebel President Aslan Maskhadov, an announcement which was quickly followed by an order from Basayev to his "troops" to observe Maskhadov’s ceasefire.
Finally, just before I click the post button, Channel 4 News has just reported that Russian State tv is broadcasting the news that Basayev has been killed. Probably they are just reporting the rumours emanating from Abkhazia today, but perhaps they have confirmation. Anyone out there in Russia know what they are saying?
Update: What are the blogs saying about it?
- Outside the Beltway worries that his comments may give Putin another excuse to rollback democracy.
- InTheBullpen points out that "children do not support a government, they just live under it".
- John Robb reckons that terroirists in Chechnya are innovative enough to follow al-Qaeda’s new thinking on global guerilla system disruption.
- Jihad Watch has a lively debate going on in the comments section. So does The Jawa Report.
- Chechnyawar says that Russia should not have called for Channel 4 not to screen the interview.
- Blind Mind’s Eye expresses the conflict that many feel – torn between disgust for terrorism, and revulsion for Russia’s heavy handed tactics in Chechnya.
- Flogging the Simian has a good, brief, roundup of the whole Chechnya situation, and the differences between Basayev and Maskhadov.
I’ll update this post with more reactions as they come in.
You have to also wonder about the mental health of Russian leaders who consider 10% of the Chechen nation fair game. Basayev has a good point: the Chechens are being slowly destroyed as a nation and that gives them no choice but to use any means necessary to defend their people and way of life.
The thing that is quite relevant here is that the Russians are horrified when the Chechens do to them in small doses, what the barbarians in the Russian army have done in Chechnya. People in America who talk about this conflict need to realize that the Russian military is nowhere near as ethical or professional as our military. The Russian Army has committed enough war crimes here so as to almost deserve collective punishment and blame. Almost.
What choice does Basayev have? The Russians would rather kill half of the entire Chechen population than let Chechnya go. As I noted on my blog, the Russians, under Putin, have begun to lust for power and prominence once more and already there is good reason to believe they are also making moves on Georgia and Ukraine. This is part of a larger pattern. Russia might as well be a rogue state; they don’t even pretend to have anyone interests in mind but theirs.
Btw, thanks for the link, I posted a link to your entry on my page when I saw the trackback alert in my email.
I love Chechnya and I really support Aly Alkhanov, Ramzan Kadyrov and Solim Yamadayev they doing a great job and I hope they gonna kill Shamil Basaev, Doky Omar and Aslan Maskhadov and I hope the federation can take Zakaev also. They are devils and Ihope they going to burn in hell.
This comment has been removed as it contained a death threat.
This comment has been removed, as it contained a death threat.
Basayev has been reported dead so many times that he almost seems immortal now. I think he has a good reason to worry seeing how much Putin is investing into Ramzan Kadyrov, who is becoming the loyal strongman Moscow has long been yearning after. I wonder how many of Basayev’s former fighters have joined Kadyrov’s guard already.