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Chechnya: Conflict and Solution

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The tough talking Russian leader Vladimir Putin may drag the militants "out of the sewer" and "rub them out in the latrine", however, the recent blasts in Moscow and Dagestan are grim reminder of the Russia's failure to preserve control over Chechnya - a volatile tinderbox of ethnic tension and secessionist movements. Despite Russia's two devastating wars against the Chechnyian separatists that killed tens of thousands of militants and civilians in the massive ground and aerial attack, Russian armed forces not only failed to quell the separatist movement but faced humiliating defeat. The continuing saga of violence and death underscores the impossibility of a purely military resolution of the conflicts in the restive North Caucasian republic; it calls for a political settlement, but the Russian leaders want to keep the region subdued through military occupation and local henchmen.

The North Caucasus is a broad isthmus between the Black Sea and the Caspian, crisscrossed by high mountains. The region is array of semiautonomous republics, many of them Islamic. The mountainous expanse is home to some 5 million people of several diverse ethnic groups with each having its own distinct language, customs, costumes, and architectures. The region fell prey to many invaders in the distant past, and after the Caucasian War of 1817-1864, also known as Russian conquest of the Caucasus, it was conquered and forcibly incorporated into the Russian Empire. The aggressive expropriation of land, Stalin's attempt to cleanse the North Caucasus of the natives, deportations and forced exile bore the bitter fruit of everlasting resentment of all things Russian. Kremlin's attitude towards the region has ensured that North Caucasians, especially from Chechnya, Dagestan, and Ingushetia, have no love lost for their Russian master.

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Retired engineer from aircraft industry and a freelance columnist.
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