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How Putin defeated 'terrorism' in Chechnya

If I learned anything during my time as CBC Radio's correspondent in Moscow, it was never to underestimate the depth of cynicism of the FSB.

The FSB is Russia's domestic intelligence agency — the successor to the infamous KGB. Former KGB colonel Vladimir Putin has been, of course, Russia's president for the past eight years.

Vladimir Putin. (Associated Press Files)

Other than George Bush, no modern leader's political career has been more entwined with "the war on terror" than that of Vladimir Putin.

At the time the exhausted Boris Yeltsin chose him to finish out his own final term as president, Putin was a political unknown. The next presidential election was less than a year away. Putin had to act quickly to impress the Russian public or risk becoming a footnote in history. His means to that end was Chechnya.

Putin's ideal foil

Most Russians despise Chechens and the feeling is mutual. The Chechens have waged a bloody on-and-off war of independence for 200 years. Russia has put down every rebellion with — in the words of its official military doctrine — "maximum force".

So Chechens were the ideal foil for Putin, and rebel leader Shamil Basayev gave him the opening he needed.

Basayev made the mistake of trying to spread the Chechen war to the neighbouring Russian province of Dagestan. Putin pounced.

He declared Basayev and the entire Chechen insurgency terrorists. The Russian military moved in with strength.

If the definition of terrorism is attempting to terrify an entire population by launching spectacular attacks on civilians, then Putin's claim was spurious. Chechen fighters had been killing a lot of Russian soldiers but they were not yet attacking Russian civilians, [with a few notable exceptions]. That would come later at Dubrovka theatre in Moscow and School Number One in Beslan.

The terrorist label Putin pinned on the Chechens went down well with the Russian public but not as easily in the West. In fact, the brutality Russian troops used against Chechen civilians prompted allegations from human rights advocates that Putin and the Russian military were the real terrorists.

Putin appeared impervious to the critique.

Rebranding the insurgency

He did however tweak his public relations message. He began to insist the Chechen independence movement had been hijacked by foreign Islamists. Although it was true that a small number of foreign jihadi fighters had come to Chechnya to fight there was no evidence they had taken control.

But by re-branding the insurgency as a new front line in the "war on terror", Putin was able to marginalize human rights critics and keep queasy European governments, such as France, at bay.

Problem was, journalists kept undermining his storyline.

Stories about Russian soldiers making Chechen husbands watch as they raped their wives kept appearing in the foreign media. So did stories about night visits by balaclava-wearing special forces troops dragging young Chechen men away from their families for no other reason than they were of fighting age.

Inevitably the young men were found dead by the side of the road the next morning or simply disappeared.

Putin's solution to the bad publicity was simple. He banned all but Kremlin-approved journalists from Chechnya.

At the same time he implemented his Chechenization strategy. He ceded control inside the borders of Chechnya to a single powerful Chechen clan — the Kadyrovs. The Kadyrovs had once fought against the Russians but now, with the spoils of war in their hands, they began fighting the rebels.

The strategy was cynical and effective. With the Chechens preoccupied with killing each other, the Russian casualties dropped drastically.

So I was surprised one day when I got a call from Gen. Ilya Shabalkin inviting CBC Television correspondent Nick Spicer and me to come down and pay him a visit at the military base in Grozny.

Shabalkin was the top FSB official in Chechnya. He had something he wanted to show us.

A seemingly remarkable coincidence

A few days earlier, the Russians had killed several rebels in a firefight. One of them was carrying a Canadian passport that identified him as 26-year-old Vancouver resident Rudwan Khalil Abubaker.

> CBC story: 'We will kill them': Russia on foreign fighters in Chechnya

Shabalkin knew a propaganda opportunity when he saw it.

Rudwan Khalil Abubaker

When I arrived, he showed me not only the passport, but also Abubaker's B.C. driver's licence and pictures of a bloated corpse. He also gave me a copy of a one-way airline ticket with Abubaker's name on it from Dubai to Makhachkala, a city near the Chechen border. A second ticket indicated that another Vancouver resident, 22-year-old Kamal ElBahja had sat in the seat beside him.

Later that night, Shabalkin insisted we come to his room for a drink. Doing business in Russia invariably involves vodka and snacks and there were plenty of both. We went to bed late, but at 5 a.m. Shabalkin was already pounding on our door.

He said his men had just shot three Turkish terrorists in a wooded area on the outskirts of Grozny. He was taking us there in an hour.

It was a seemingly remarkable coincidence.

Foreign terrorists, just the kind the Putin was claiming had hijacked the rebellion, killed within five kilometres of the Grozny military base at the very time a foreign television crew that had been given permission to breach the ban on the media was there to take pictures.

No nice guys in Chechen war

When we arrived at the site it was all there just like General Shabalkin promised.

The bodies of three Turks lay crumpled on the ground. Discovering their exact identities wasn't a problem because, conveniently, they had Turkish passports on them. There was a map and visa stamps in the passports that indicated they had infiltrated Russia via the neighbouring country of Georgia. Their weapons were nearby. So was a small Lada car.

Shabalkin said the car had been packed with explosives and that the men were planning to set off a massive car bomb in Grozny. But he said army explosives experts had taken the bomb back to the base to study it.

The scene was so neatly packaged to support the Kremlin line it raised a couple of disturbing possibilities.

Had the bodies of these men been removed from the morgue and laid out here as a photo op for the CBC? There was an even more horrifying possibility. Had these men been taken from their cells and executed?

I have no answer. It troubles me to even think about it. What I do know, though, is that the depth of cynicism that permeates Russia's political elite makes it at least plausible.

There were no nice guys in the war in Chechnya. The rebels responded to what they saw as state terrorism with terrorism of their own aimed at Russian civilians. The Beslan hostage taking alone took 331 lives — more than half of them children.

A few courageous Russian journalists such as Anna Politkovskaya defied the ban and enraged both the rebels and the Kremlin by reporting the truth about both their human rights abuses.

She was assassinated by a gunman in the elevator of her apartment building. The police are still investigating. The suspects range from agents of Chechen president Ramzon Kadyrov to associates of the FSB.

A final footnote

For five years, the Kremlin has been declaring victory in its war with rebels in Chechnya. Now it appears they may be right. The rebels still make sporadic attacks on Russian convoys but the attacks have dwindled to one or two a week. Military experts who used to estimate the number of Chechen fighters in the thousands now put it at about 500.

This March, Putin will leave office with an 80 per cent approval rating with the Russian public. After the chaos of the Yeltsin years, he is credited with restoring economic and political stability to the country. In the eyes of a majority of Russians, his Chechen strategy worked.

---

Comment from Bill Gillespie (Jan. 16, 5:13 p.m.):

I thought Chechnya and Afghanistan were tough neighbourhoods. They've got nothing on the blogosphere.

After reading some of the reaction below, I acknowledge a factual error in this column. Vincent Moss is right. Chechen fighters did stage attacks on Russian civilians before Putin arrived on the scene in 1999. Most notably, in 1995, Shamil Basayev (later the architect of the Beslan hostage taking) took 1,500 patients and hospital staff hostage at Budyonnovsk. One hundred and five civilians died.

At the time, though, Russian politicians and the media referred to the incident as a "crisis" rather than a terrorist attack. Shamil Basayev was usually referred to as a "separatist", not a terrorist. It was Putin who later began attaching the label "terrorism" to what until that time was usually referred to as an independence movement.

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Comments

Vincent Moss

"Chechen fighters had been killing a lot of Russian soldiers but they were not yet attacking Russian civilians".
What a load of crap. Just look here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Budyonnovsk_hospital_hostage_crisis

Posted January 14, 2008 11:02 PM

Brett

Alberta

Mr. Putin has made the people proud once more to be Russian. No doubt there are some unsavory chapters, but the book is about bringing law and order to a country that was being overrun with criminals more than terrorists.

The Russian people found out the hard way, during the 1990s, that democracy does not happen in a vacuum - it needs the fair and impartial rule of law. This is not something western civilization learned overnight - or without cracking a few skulls.

More troubling is the murder of Anna Politkovskaya and others whose only crime was to speak out. Hopefully Russia will one day be a country where open debate carries the day.

Putin's success, meager by our present standards in the West, great by Russian standards, is in moving toward law and order that must be present before any meaningful ideological discussion can take place. It will be interesting to see where the man goes next . . .

Posted January 15, 2008 12:43 AM

Shots

NFLD

Maybe western governments should focus on the human rights atrocities committed by one of our "Allies", repeatedly and consistently.

Posted January 15, 2008 07:46 AM

Andre

Montréal

Bill Gillespie and CBC !

You are not a honest journalists -you are provocateurs, you are the bloody jackals inciting war and bandits and should be incriminated by international court.


"Chechen fighters had been killing a lot of Russian soldiers but they were not yet attacking Russian civilians" - do you think other people are idiots to take this your lie?

Are you the propagandists of Rudwan Khalil Abubaker?

This is one of the most disgraceful for Canada and dishonest articles I ever read.

Down with the bloody provocateurs - CBC !

Posted January 15, 2008 08:15 AM

Charlene Smith

Woodstock,Ontario

I agree with Brett.

Russia went from being devestated when democracy happened to being a proud country again.

Whether we agree with how Putin did it or not,they are a country to be reckoned with again.

He managed to turn the economy around when they were flat out broke.

He has the people's support and that's all that really matters.

Posted January 15, 2008 09:31 AM

DD

KOlogriv

What a bunch of BS!
Chechens killed roughly half of Russian population of Chechnya with Eltsin’s and Putin’s blessing. Eltsin left ALL of Russian military’s weapons for Chechens when he pulled army out of chchnya.
Chechens used it to massacre over 100,000 Russians BEFORE Putin did anything!.

Posted January 15, 2008 10:05 AM

Anthony

Ottawa

From beginning to end, Putin's presidency has been nothing but the cold exploitation of the Russian psychological need to play the hero. The Chechens were an obvious lead-in villain, just as the West is an obvious follow-on. Putin has short-circuited and actively curbed Russian democracy because he, like too many Russians today, thinks that Russia needs One Big Boss. These are not 'unsavoury chapters'; this is the Cheka (FSB sounds so tame, doesn't it?) at work.

Posted January 15, 2008 10:24 AM

Mark Asenov

You forgot to mention that not only did the Chechens under Basayev invade Dagestan but they set off a series of truck bombs in Russia proper that leveled many apartment blocks. Those bombings set off the second Chechen war more than anything.

Also, you claiming that the Chechen fighters werent thoroughly infiltrated by foreign fighters before the second war is nonsense. Khattab a Jordanian field commander was Basayev's number 2 man and an admitted member of Al Qaeda until he was liquidated by Russian forces.

There was a training camp for jihadi fighters going to Chechnya 20km's outside of Istanbul that was covered by CNN in the late 1990's that the Turkish authorities refused to shutdown for years. Hundred of fighters primary from Turkey and Albania trained there.

In short your cynicism about Russia allows you to overlook mountains of evidence.

Simply watch some youtube videos of the Chechen Mujaheeds and you will see all the foreigners, of course you need to be able to speak Turkish and Arabic to spot them which I suspect you dont.

Posted January 15, 2008 10:25 AM

Wally MacNaughton

Calgary

This is not a story about Putin or the Chechens. This is a story about a journalist who is upset at being made a tool in a political game. Some would say that's your function. No one would say that it's news.

Posted January 15, 2008 10:44 AM

KF

Toronto

The more I read about the history of Russia and Chechnya, the more disturbing I find - how these people have been abused by successive Russian leaders without too much thought given by the world community.

And now with this so-called war on terror, it has given Putin a free hand in killing Chechens with impunity.

I agree with the reporter that there are no nice guys, which makes this war a bit too easy to put out of our thoughts. And with the Putin propaganda (which it seems a lot of posters above have swallowed) in full force and a complete lack of news reports, it seems the Chechen wives will continue to be raped and young men continue to be killed.

Posted January 15, 2008 12:03 PM

Tommy

Denmark

Killing tens of thousands of Chechen civilians, the flattening and total "Ausradierung" of the once beautiful half-million city of Grozny, leaving yet other thousands of killed among this city's peaceful inhabitants, well, that's the *leagcy* of a war-criminal: Mr. Putin

I agree with Anthony, in his very clear and precise post above.

All those, who *diminish* the awful and forgotten horrors of over 200,000 slaughtered innocent Chechen civilians, over a decade, including all the raped, tortured and orphans, should be ashamed in your cynical appraisal about Putins way of making "Russians proud again".

Is such war-criminal massmurder, well documented and described also by this article by Bill Gillespie, anything ever to ever be *proud* of ??

Posted January 15, 2008 12:51 PM

Sergei Evgrapov

Does Mr. Gillespie remember the horrific raid of Chechen TERRORISTS on Buddenovsk, a small town OUTSIDE of Chechnya, in June 1995? 1500 civilian hostages; 100 dead. Or the raid on Kizliar, a town in neighboring Dagestan, in January 1996? 2000 civilian hostages; 64 dead. Both attacks happened before Putin assumed presidency. So did the forced and violent expulsions of anyone non-Chechen from Chechnya in the early 1990s. Hundreds of thousands of people had no choice, but to leave all their possessions and leave at a moments notice or risk death. What is it if not ethnic cleansing?

Posted January 15, 2008 01:01 PM

Joel

Putin's "accomplishments" are great in comparison to that of his predecessor -- a drunk and incompetent. Yeltsin drove Russia into the ground by not having any leadership qualities beyond being a great political campaigner and the man who stood up for democracy. So Russians have no George Washington, a man who, unlike Putin decline the offer of perpetual power. Washington chose to let democracy flourish. With it, a tradition of democratic institutions like freedom of the press. The "success" of the war in Chechnya comes at a high price that the government can manage information and deny press freedom.

Indeed, there were many on both sides in the Chechen war who can be charged with excesses. But there is no doubt that the greatest number of Russian civilians were killed in the Russian bombings of the civilian population of Grozny.

The atrocities that have been perpetuated by the Russians and Kadirovsty set the tone for the future. United Russia just "won" 99% of the vote in Chechnya--a Soviet style success.

And so, torture one "terrorist" and give birth to five more. Is Ingushetia not becoming the next Chechnya? I have seen homes destroyed on the least suspicion, people kidnapped and tortured with little or no cause...and they are the lucky survivors. The problem of Russian oppression in the Caucuses is not resolved--it is only being transformed. And Kadyrov is not turning Chechens into loyal citizens of the Russian Federation--he is setting an example of the momentary and partial effectiveness of duplicity.

Posted January 15, 2008 01:16 PM

MK

BC

Russia holds "elections", but it is not a democracy. The winner of those elections will always be the appointed successor of the outgoing president.
The Bolshevik Revolution replaced one Tzar with another, but under a different label. The breakup of the Soviat Union just did it all over again.
Same system, different optics.

Posted January 15, 2008 01:19 PM

Les

Toronto

Wow, interesting comments showing up. We can see from this article that democracy really is a slow evolution and cannot be dropped in a neat package out of the sky like the current U.S. administration would like. The new Russian state has held over the comforting strong man position that the people were used to. He wasn’t given it but Putin simply took the power that he needed. He doesn’t have to compromise and he has a bureaucracy that will serve him because it remembers that the strong man gives rewards and punishes. The free press whose role is to act as the conscience of the nation is gradually being smothered. After all, the people are happy with the way things are going, there’s no need to trouble them with the details of what’s being done in their name. Yes, Chechnya has been a source of trouble to Russia but the collective punishment meted out to its people will go down in history as a shameful period in the birth of the new Russia.

Posted January 15, 2008 01:50 PM

Bert Bailey

Ottawa

Interesting article, and of the kind we seldom see. The parallel with Bush is apt, too: it says much about the unfortunate times in which we live.

However, when your author says, "So I was surprised one day when I got a call from Gen. Ilya Shabalkin inviting CBC Television correspondent Nick Spicer and I to come down and pay him a visit at the military base in Grozny.", one's left to wonder: are editors in short supply at the CBC?

"Inviting...*I* to come down and pay him a visit..."? No sirs: Inviting *me*, surely. This part of the sentence clearly calls not the subject pronoun, but for the object pronoun.

This is the kind of gaffe one expects CBC writers not to commit. At worst, your editors should be on the alert and correct them.

BB

Posted January 15, 2008 03:48 PM

Gus

Australia

Down with the scribes of the imperialist west, their provocateurs and consummate liars . As with the "freedom fighters" of yesterday now called terrorists in Afghanistan, the Chechnyan "insurgents" are been armed and trained by the CIA and co., in order to destabilize Russia as they have been doing long before the communists were in power there. Have a look of WHOM benefits from this nonsenses and you will have the real culprits!!

Posted January 15, 2008 06:41 PM

Scott

Ontario

This article is awash in a plethora of conveniently false information, not unlike Mr. Putins government. I believe the author spent far too much time in Russia. Canadians should be abhorred by this type of journalism.

Posted January 15, 2008 08:40 PM

paul

Brett and some others on this forum seem to be out to lunch --

"Chechnya" has been brutally occupied by Russia for quite some time, and to say the rebels in the country are criminals and terrorists is a gross error. They live by strict codes of honour and, having been raised in a warrior society, adhere to certain rules of warfare the Russian-led conscripts don't.

Beslan and the apartment bombings were more than likely the work of the FSB, which has engaged in countless "false flag" operations.

Posted January 15, 2008 09:04 PM

Daniel Cowper

Toronto

This article displays distortions and outright historical inaccuracies that a few minutes' research could remedy.
Most shocking is Gillespie's failure to note a central fact: the bombing campaign carried out in Aug-Sept 1999 against civilian targets inside Russia, prior to the Russian attack on Chechnya.
The Chechen rebels blew up whole apartment buildings, killing dozens at a time. e.g. Sept 8, 1999: Moscow: a nine story building destroyed: almost a hundred dead outright; more than that injured. Sept 13, 1999: Moscow: an eight story building blown up: another hundred plus dead; two hundred injured.
The term 'terrorist' was not used 'spuriously' to describe those who committed these atrocities, and it is disgusting that Gillespie would write so boldly upon this topic without knowing the basic facts.
I presume ignorance: if he knew about those bombings and still wrote what he did, no words are strong enough.
However much stupidity one credits Gillespie with, it can't fully exonerate him. His article is dishonest and crude. To downplay Chechen terrorism and the involvement of international terrorist organisations, as Gillespie does, is a disgrace to the CBC.

Thank goodness the CBC is accountable, and will institute proceedings to examine how such a sloppy and dishonest article came to be published, and it will ensure that its like will never again receive the CBC imprimature. Right?

Posted January 15, 2008 09:27 PM

mo

calgary

keep peace alive ...............

Posted January 15, 2008 10:30 PM

Charlene Smith

Woodstock,Ontario

Paul,

I think that you were talking indirectly to me being out to lunch..

Anyhow.I have admittedly only followed world politics since the 1960s.I am 44.

What started me was the U.S.,the U.S.S.R. and Cuba.

I remember as a child going through an air raid drill in Canada as the threat of nuclear war was very real in Canada back then.

I grew up with the very real possibility of being killed by something I didn't understand or was a party too.I also remember the pictures of what it looked like being burnt by the atomic bomb.

I am old enough to remember when the world is not what it is today and I also understand that not everything is as it seems to be.

I also don't take everything I read in the media as fact either.There are lots of sources besides the media.

I believe the term'terrorist'is used to freely today.I will also agree that there is a code.

I also believe that power corrupts without balance.

Posted January 16, 2008 03:03 PM

ms

Victoria

It's interesting to see the spectrum of political action that emerges from the parallels with the West - the Russian elite are certainly close to the extreme these days, but then you'd expect that since nearly all of them grew up and learned to survive in the Soviet system. The way that system uses them to perpetuate itself is fascinating.

What I wonder is whether in the West, much nearer the other end of the spectrum even if we follow our own pendulum, we're moving back toward that model, or just more keenly observing our own failures than we used to. Though the latter would be brought on by the former anyway, and is probably the way we correct those swings.

Anyway, nice thoughtful background piece, with carefully restrained bias - thanks.

Posted January 17, 2008 11:41 AM

Vladimir Certik

I do not know how Putin defeated "terrorism' in Chechnya, but I know, that so called islamic terrorism/extremism was an asset and a brainchild of CIA from the USSR era. In this context it seems to be a total hypocrisy to point a finger at Russia and omit great exploits of GWB in the name of democracy (whatever that word means), namely making an illegal wars on packs of lies including claim, that Saddam harbored terrorists.

Posted January 17, 2008 07:31 PM

Quinn Hutson

Calgary

In a conflict such as Russia-Chechnya, the question of "who started it" seems rather pointless. As Gillespie notes, this conflict has been ongoing in one form or another for quite some time, and it certainly isn't the only such conflict in the region. Given the prolongued and brutal nature of such conflicts it should not be a shocking statement that government leaders become hardened, desensitized, "cynical", least of all a former member of the KGB.

The conflicts that plague the region cannot be halted by holding elections or by claiming victory over a foe simply because (reported) violence has slowed for the time being. The threats and attacks made by both sides will only bring about more suffering for all civilians in the region, as political leaders calously accept such suffering as innevitable. For the sake of the uncounted victims, be they Russian or Chechen by name, I hope the cycle of violence ends sooner than later.

Posted January 19, 2008 01:04 AM

Etienne Tipple

There seems to be alot of garbage posted here. We have a smattering of random Russians here trying to portray how good Putin is and how bad the Chechens are. Many speak of hypocrisy here, and of "factual" accuracy, but what a load of crap! Individuals with even a minuscule amount of common-sense and intelligence would question any information emanating from Russia. I consider the authors of this article as true journalists, and know for a fact that the CBC tend to be objective (unlike Pravda, ironically translated as the "truth", or any other censored state owned crap that comes out of Russia, for that matter!). So they "mixed" up a few facts, but how are we to call them "facts" if the information hasn't yet been confirmed by anybody else but the Russian government! Facts come from proven evidence!

Posted January 19, 2008 10:00 AM

Don

Mississauga

Democracy didn't devastate Russia; the IMF, World Bank, and Washington intransigence did. By selling off state owned assets worth billions for next to nothing the Russian economy was ruined. Millions unemployed, cheap foreign goods flooded the market, people had to hawk their heirlooms to buy food. That lead to disquiet, then unrest, then finally an insurrection against Boris Yeltsin's mishandling of the Russian state. Parliament intervened, Yeltsin fought back by surrounding the place and opening fire. Democracy was destroyed along with the Parliament buildings and the US jumped in on Boris's side. In and amongst all that, and as a distraction, Yeltsin began his war against Chechnya.

It was the west that destroyed Russia and, ultimately, Chechnya. It has taken thousands of lives lost, millions of lives ruined to get from there to here. I sincerely hope that that the crimes of the IMF and World Bank, along with our collusion and approval, and not just in Russia but Poland, Chile, Argentina, and everywhere else they're flags have flown, will one day be uncovered and those dogs will finally be brought to heel once and for all.

Posted January 19, 2008 11:44 PM

sergey

Russians have no businesss in North Caucasus. This war will only end when they go back to Russia. And it has nothing to do with the fact that Chechens are Muslims. In Ukraine, and Georgia and Latvia, Estonia, Lituania we are are all christians, and yet the most glorious day was to see the Russian Military truck-loads of ssoldiers to depart our homeland. I pray for freedom for Chechens and other North Caucasian people.

Posted January 20, 2008 01:10 AM

JPC

Regina

You mean there are people out there that are MORE evil than the Americans??!!

Posted January 20, 2008 09:11 AM

Nick

UK

Your story is a shame since you've manipulated with the facts and clearly take one side. If you are talking about poor corpses of terrorists found in the zone of active military combat you also had to visit any military hospital morgue in Rostov/Moscow to see the documents/hundreds of corpses of 18-20 year old russian soldiers with cut heads. Did FSB do it for them? You would say so, no doubt.
Shame on you.

Posted January 20, 2008 04:00 PM

zulu

A true reflection of the world of Putin. Justifying his actions because "he came through a tough life", "he was just reacting to others wrongs"; considerably diminishes the fact that as leader of one of the most powerful countries in the one world is not expected to act like a complete thug. I think he is an embarrassment to Russians as a nation intent on moving into the 21st century. The fact that most Russians are political children when it comes to a democratic vote (democracy is not something one can learn overnight) does not mean that Putin would have the support of said Russians if they had some sort of freedom of political expression to guide them. With the assignation of some key voices (journalists in this case), it is possible to keep freedom of speech in check. This was well known in Africa long before it ever made its way to Russia, so don’t see this as a “Russian thing” – it is just a “smart thug” thing.

Posted January 20, 2008 11:25 PM

Eric

BC

Well lets sit around and argue about who's got the least bloody hands! These are 2 governments that have a long history of war crimes against eachother and themselves, and are not unlike many other conflicts. "War Crimes" are the unethical steps that non-allied governments take. When Iraq children are sent to a POW, I mean Insurgence Camp and never heard from again, its not a war crime, its a secritarial error on behalf of a operational inconsistency. When a hospital gets bombed, its not a civilian attack, but a tactical error. The comment about "Chechen fighters had been killing a lot of Russian soldiers but they were not yet attacking Russian civilians" is incorrect, but so is the comment "Quebec seperatists have not yet attacked Canadian civilians" I'm not knowledgable about the Soviet conflict enough to comment about the level of violence, and I doubt most people even in the affected areas are, but if your making, throwing or distributing bombs then you are a war monger. Russia's a war monger, Chechnya's a war monger, so is China, the UK, the US, Canada (little pang of shame)and anyone else that makes, buys, sells or uses mines, warheads, rockets, grenades and any other weapon created to kill indescriminantly and in volume. A claymore's explosion is lower to the ground, causing higher injury rates and a lower mortality rate, as opposed to a bouncing betty. If explosives were the only way you knew to settle a problem, then obviously the claymore is the more humain, democratic, wholesome, christian weapon, fit for an enlightened society.

Posted January 22, 2008 01:02 PM

Eric

BC

Also to piggyback on MK's comment "Russia holds "elections", but it is not a democracy. The winner of those elections will always be the appointed successor of the outgoing president."
Long live King Bush the II

Posted January 22, 2008 01:14 PM

C.B

The fact is we must suppress terrorism of all sorts. Mr. Putin will do what he has to in order to prevent and discourage terrorists from joining forces near Russian borders. Dont get me wrong Mr. Putin is a man who emphasizes "stability" before freedom but this is at the cost of Russian freedom and blood and this strategy may backfire later. However, let us remenber that the terrorits' idealogy and determination should not be underestimated. They killed civilians in Spain, Britain, Tanzania, russia, Israel and the United States. They are a bunch of cowards who kill innocent people, who are radical on different views, who disrespect women and who suppress the basic right of freedom to choose while the bible and the koran clearly tell us that "god respect our freedom". The bottom line they should not be among us and anybody who supports the efforts of those radicals who join forces to kill innocent people are exercising a great deal of misjudgement.This is serious threat to all of us. These people are recruting poor folks already angry, with no education who also want to feel important. They brainwash those people by using jihad as the pretext. I love muslims dearly but we MUST stay on offense against terrorisms from the United States to Russia.

Posted February 1, 2008 05:58 PM

W. Darwish

Montreal

In few words: Putin succeeded in his war against the terrorists because he wanted to end them. Mr. Bush did not want to get rid of them. Otherwise he could catch Bin Laden in the first few months of the war in Tora Bora, or not going to Iraq! Bush wanted to occupy both Iraq and Afghanistan in the name of terror, Period.

Posted February 23, 2008 04:32 PM

Irina

I was born in the city close to the border with Chechnya. My city is the major transportation centre in North Caucasus and teracts, hijacking airplanes and buses started a long time prior to Putin and Eltzin, in late 80s. I was foostered by my grandparents, native to these region, to be scary of that people[Chechens and some other muslims], but show respect. There is a bloody history between Russians and Chechens for generations and the only muslim nation that always fighting Russins is Chechen. So, there were and is so many violence from both sides, so many blood and hatred, that you can't judge the situation from here. First started Chechens, but Russia did not better. Now there is no right side, both nations hate each other equally. If you go there as a friend I am not sure that you come back alive because they also have stereotypes. Anna Politkovskaia told truth, but she was murdered and some of killers was a Chechen. There is no solution except to bring peace-keepers, but who wants go there? Canada? NATO? Not enough Afganistan? or Iraq? this war will take at least a generation until pain of losses will be forgotten and war crimes. Do not judge the correspondent: he has his own impression, but remember my feelings- pain, shock,anger when I watched TV in Russia or phoned from here when got news about bombs on food market killed two dozens of people and injured hundren in location just three blocks when my family live... Putin stopped war, but with more blood and losses from both sides. It's all.

Posted March 24, 2008 10:09 PM

Nitin

India

No terrorist should be shown an mercy .. they should be killed in such a manner & exibited to the world that no human being will try n be a terrorist ever .. Also the famalies of these terrorists should be treated as criminals as they are if not more but equally responsible for terrorism in the world.
Russia is fortunate that they have a president like Mr. Putin who has a spine unlike a democracy like ours ministers are all spineless, they put national security at risk of loosing their vote banks.

Posted June 21, 2008 04:05 AM

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About the Author

Bill Gillespie

Bill Gillespie is CBC Radio’s security correspondent. An award-winning journalist and former foreign correspondent, he has travelled extensively in Afghanistan, Iraq, Chechnya and the Russian Caucusus. He witnessed the fall of the Taliban, the deadly siege of Beslan School Number One, and was in Baghdad’s central square the day Saddam’s statue came down.

Since his return to Canada in 2005, he has studied and reported on Canada’s intelligence agencies, the Air India Inquiry and accused Canadian terror suspect Omar Khadr.

Recent Posts

The 9/11 effect: Has $24 billion made Canada safer?
Friday, March 21, 2008
How Putin defeated 'terrorism' in Chechnya
Monday, January 14, 2008
Why the Pentagon treats Omar Khadr differently
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Cyber wars and the West
Monday, November 26, 2007
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