Cultural Revolutions

Chechen Boyeviki

The Chechen Boyeviki ("warriors") are widening the war with Russia, dashing any hopes the Kremlin had of containing the conflict. On May 10, a group of 30 to 40 boyeviki practically wiped out an Internal Troops (MVD) convoy (killing 22 of 26 men) in the neighboring Ingush republic, embarrassing Moscow and sparking a war of words between the Russian military and Ingush President Ruslan Aushev, each blaming the other for the incident. Aushev claimed that the surprise attack was yet another indicator of the Russian military's incompetence, since it came just a few kilometers from the Chechen border and the convoy did not take even elementary security precautions. The military fired back by questioning Aushev's loyalty (the Ingush and Chechens are related peoples), inadvertently pointing out what most Russians already know: The Caucasian, mostly Muslim, republics sympathize with the Chechens and want Moscow to talk peace with Chechen President Asian Maskhadov.

In fact, Duma deputy Pavel Krashennikov—probably with the Kremlin's blessing—had recently met with Maskhadov's representative in Ingushetia, leading some pundits to conclude that both Maskhadov and President Vladimir Putin were ready to negotiate and that somebody, most likely the more belligerent Chechen "field commanders," wanted to undercut peace talks. It is entirely possible, however, that hawks in the Russian...

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