A Gentleman’s Agreement

chechnya041709.jpgIt seems that no matter what we are hearing about Chechnya, it is difficult to feel very optimistic about it.  Many newspaper editorials are panicking, while the declarations of “victory” seem akin to George W. Bush’s “mission accomplished” moment.  Among other coverage today, there is this one from the Wall Street Journal:

Some analysts say Moscow’s decision to remove federal oversight illustrates a method of dealing with insurgency that is practical and paradoxical — giving power to former rebels in return for rhetorical loyalty.

“It’s a gentlemen’s agreement,” says Sergei Arutyunov, a Chechnya expert at Russia’s Academy of Sciences. “The Kremlin gives Kadyrov a free hand in return for 100% verbal support and peace.” (…)

Mr. Kadyrov says he hopes his region’s new normalized status willspeed that progress and allow Grozny airport to become internationaland receive freight. That, he says, would boost foreign investment.

Some Russian experts disagree, saying that Chechnya’s new autonomy– and longtime instability — could leave it vulnerable to negativeoutside influences, such as smugglers. Without strong federal controlfrom Moscow, Chechnya remains something of a weak link in the RussianFederation, these experts say.

“If it happens, you’ll get anything and everything coming in,” says Alexei Malashenko, an expert at the Carnegie Moscow Center.

Rights activists want the Kremlin to keep Mr. Kadyrov in check.”Such a series of coincidences cannot but raise suspicions,” TanyaLokshina, a prominent activist, says of the deaths of Kadyrov’sopponents.

Photo: Picture taken on March 31, 1995 shows a Russian soldier inspecting thebodies of civilans killed in winter fighting that have been exhumed foridentification at the Orthodox cemetary in Grozny. Russia on April 16,2009 ended an anti-terror operation in Chechnya that has been in placefor a decade, amid growing stability in the territory torn by two warssince the collapse of Communism. (Getty Images)