German Press Review: A Bloody Reminder of Chechnya | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 07.07.2003
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German Press Review: A Bloody Reminder of Chechnya

Many German papers on Monday commented on the deadly terrorist attack at a rock concert in Moscow over the weekend.


Suicide bombings killed at least 16 and injured more than 40 at an open-air music festival on Saturday near Moscow.

The Sueddeutsche Zeitung from Munich said the suicide bombing shows that the Chechen war has developed forms similar to those of the Palestinian Intifada. “The logic of the rebels is easy to understand,” wrote the paper. “Because they cannot win against the Russian army on the battlefield, they carry the war into the Russian society.” According to the paper, this has a double effect: Firstly the whole country starts panicking. The Chechen rebels hope that this panic will finally force Moscow to grant Chechnya independence. And secondly, the deadly attacks draw world wide attention to the forgotten war in the Caucasus.

It may well be that foreign terrorists are involved in the guerrilla war in Chechnya, commented the Stuttgarter Zeitung – but it is also clear, that the war is backed by the Chechen population. “As long as the people in the Caucasus have the feeling that they are ruled by a foreign power and as long as human rights abuses committed by the Russian army continue without punishment, there is hardly any chance that the terror attacks will stop,” said the paper.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s plans for presidential elections in Chechnya in October aren’t likely at all to resolve the conflict, said the Thüringer Allgemeine from Erfurt. And the paper suggested that the suicide bombings might have been the rebel’s answer to the announcement of the poll date by the Kremlin only a day before the attack.

Berlin-based daily Die Welt opined that Putin has the right to fight suicide attacks. In this light Russia’s actions are part of the global fight against terrorism. However, the conflict cannot be resolved solely by military means, warned the paper, as the demand for freedom in Chechnya will continue. In order to really ease the crisis Russia must grant Chechnya more independence and Russia today is stable enough to afford to do so, according to the paper.

Putin has to start talking to the rebels, demanded the Financial Times Deutschland, saying that this is his only chance of bringing the conflict under control. And the Russian president must be ready for far reaching concessions, the paper said. Even if total independence of the Chechen republic is not acceptable to him – unless the province is given far reaching autonomy the terrorists will not stop their fight.