Russia, December 18, 1999

The lead article in the Economist of that date starts off this way

A paradox attends the parliamentary election in Russia this Sunday. The issue that most concerns people outside Russia – the war in Chechnya – is barely a matter for discussion among either the candidates or the voters. What kind of country can hold a general election without discussing a civil war whose needless brutality horrifies most decent outsiders?

Vladimir Putin would become president just a few weeks after this was written.

In fact, the article refers to the second armed conflict in Chechnya. The fist one lasted from 1994 to 1996. That war ended with a peace treaty signed by Boris Yeltsin.  In August 1999, fighting broke out in Dagestan. Then in September, there were bombings in various Russian cities that were blamed on Chechen rebels. Over 300 were killed. The most significant one took place in Moscow.

Whether these was staged or not — and some have argued that they were — the Russian military was ready for the second war. The brutality of the second war was well reported. So too has been the brutality of the person installed by Putin to be the leader of Chechnya, Mr. Kadyrov who has remained in power there ever since.


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