Moscow: (Agencies: 14/4/2009): Russia has ended its so-called "counter-terrorism operation" in the southern republic of Chechnya. In a statement, the National Russian Anti-terrorist Committee added that the decision aimed "to create conditions to further normalize the situation in the region".
Russian forces have fought two major campaigns against separatist rebels in the predominantly Muslim republic since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Sporadic clashes persist, but major fighting died down several years ago.
In the meantime, Human Rights Watch is denouncing atrocities did by the Russian forces. It added that in its ignoring of the Chechen population, the international attitude – that of the US, the EU, the UN Security Council and the World Bank – has been disappointing and cynical.
According to the HRW assessment, those leaders, politicians, intellectuals, journalists and representatives of the armed forces who became indignant over Serb repression of Albanians in Kosovo (an autonomous province of Serbia) and who flew the flag of armed humanitarianism during the NATO operation have remained silent over Russian repression in Chechnya (a Russian autonomous republic inside the Russian Federation).
For almost ten years the US and Europe have supported and invested in the rapid reforms backed first by Boris Yeltsin and then by president Vladimir Putin, in order to avoid a take-over by the armed forces, anti-Western extremists or neo-communists.
Russian and Western governments agree that the independence of Chechnya would pave the way for the possible break-up of Russia and the de-legitimizing of the government. Therefore, Russia has been allowed to crush the rebellion. The Chechen people have fallen victim of this policy of seeking the lesser of all evils-a policy dubbed in the Middle East and third world countries as being a shameless western policy of "double standards":
Repugnant ethnic cleansing in Kosovo but acceptable anti-terrorism in Chechnya? Humanitarian intervention above the principle of state sovereignty in Serbia but faithful respect for Russia’s sovereignty?
Meanwhile, there was no immediate information from the Russian anti-terrorist committee on what yesterday’s decision would mean for the deployment of troops in Chechnya or the security restrictions that are in place.
These include curfews, road blocks, and periodic searches by the security forces for suspected Islamist fighters, and easier detention rules.