The Chechen Path to Russian Statehood door Alexander DUGIN in Vremya Novostei, juni 2004.
Over the past few years, Chechnya has been going through a painstaking process of military and political settlement. This process was by no means a particular case. President Putin contemplated Chechnya as a model which was to demonstrate to the world the desired type of Russian statehood and the principles and values it would be built upon. Otherwise, there would be no justification for the severe fighting against separatism.
The Soviet Union disintegrated relatively peacefully, but what grounds does the Russian Federation have for defending its territorial integrity? What ideology, what mission, what justification? Putin had to use Chechnya as an example by which to demonstrate the new essence of Russia’s statehood. This means that Chechnya was a problem pertaining to content rather than to technique, to the destiny of Russia as a state and a nation.
Putin responded to the challenge in the following manner: Chechnya, controlled by the federal troops, would be forced to assimilate the Russian legal and administrative norms. It would also receive the same type of democratic civil society that other parts of Russia have accepted. The country was forced to pay a large and bloody price: the fight for democratic norms and civil law, which are now viewed as sacred goals, resulted in mass deaths and enormous torment. Actually, the second Chechen campaign, as well as the political process of 2002-2004, might prompt a conclusion that the administrative system of each Russian region, given all of its pros and cons, is so invaluable that it is worth the deaths of thousands of men and pools of blood.
Putin was expected to substantiate the essence of Russia’s new statehood system, however, he chose to delay it. Instead, he insisted on the “No” part of the program: “Say ‘No’ to separatism!” “Keep up territorial integrity or die!” He offered a tough stance, but it was only half the answer. The “No” part of the program was made perfectly clear, while the “Yes” part remained obscure.
Akhmad Kadyrov was the backbone in this whole structure. The success of the operation, code-named “Kadyrov,” was to underscore the legitimacy of modern Russia as a whole. It was simply not permitted to fall apart, and no special explanations were provided. The Kadyrov model signified the essence of Russian statehood.
With Kadyrov as a leader of the region, Chechnya was made to fit pan-federal Russian standards. The federal government made an inordinate effort to align the bleeding region with other parts of the country. It fully mobilized to focus its military and administrative resources on the task. The effort was reinforced by the unbending will and strong power instinct of Akhmad-hajji Kadyrov, who by force and persuasion impelled the members of different teips (clans), virds (religious communities), and even separatist groups, to recognize his personal power. This he presented to the Kremlin as the Chechen element of the vertically-integrated Russian Federation.
Kadyrov was the main element of Russian statehood. He bolstered the grounds for severe fighting against separatism, the legitimacy of tough anti-separatist measures before the eyes of the West. He maintained a balance of compromise between the Russian federal legislative norms and the uniqueness of Chechen society that does not tally with those norms. The essence of the Kadyrov regime boiled down to demonstrating to everyone that Russia’s statehood has the ability to tame any forms of internal resistance and is therefore valuable and efficient.
But there were forces that lurked in the shadows, forces that waited until that moment when the system of Kadyrov’s rule had taken hold and acquired a faзade of stability and steadiness. They waited until Kadyrov had become indispensable for the Kremlin not only in Chechnya but nationwide, as well as on a global scale – when it would seem to the world that Russia had handled the rebellious region.
The explosion that ripped through the Grozny stadium on May 9, 2004 was aimed at the most vulnerable element of Russia’s system – the legitimacy of its values and techniques. Alas, it reached its target. If we had regarded Kadyrov and his system as point one on the political scale, we would have to admit that we are now thrown back to zero or even minus one. It was in our hands, but we lost it. This means that Putin will again have to substantiate the essence and value of Russia’s statehood, as well as provide proofs of its efficiency and ability to contain the problems. It literally comes down to this: tell us what the essence of that statehood is, and we will decide if defending its integrity makes sense. Furthermore, we will set an appropriate price for it.
Any solution to the current Chechen crisis will depend on the efficiency of the technology used, promotion campaigns and media strategy. The solution will also have to include political agreements between the federal government and Chechen teips and groupings. But most importantly, it will need a new substantiation of values and efficiency of the Russian state as a whole.
The previous system proved to be technologically advantageous and efficient, but devoid of content and rather fragile. Efficiency is always short-lived, and once it breaks away from content, its results become adverse to the projected ones. This is comparable with modern-day political PR campaigns – they contain quick mobilization, swift and impressive actions, hammering-out of the desired results, and then – a pause until a new campaign starts, all of which is equally senseless and efficacious. However, there was no time for a pause this time, and the problem revealed its bare essence. In a way, Putin’s resolute motto “Say ‘No’ to separatism!” has proven to be insufficient: the Kadyrov formula uncovered a shaky foundation.
President Putin is facing a fundamental choice. Kadyrov’s elimination compels him to provide a definite “Yes” or “No” answer. It might have seemed to Putin at the time that the issue was closed and could only be addressed on the technological level. However, it is now understandable that such an approach was not correct. We are witnessing a rather painful failure of the strategy of substituting effectual technologies and PR simulations for a real meaningful policy – something that has become a trademark of part of the President’s team. They have succeeded in this strategy on other occasions, although their success proves to be transitory and dubious. Today, Russia is hinged on Putin in much the same manner that Chechnya was hinged on Kadyrov. Putin is really the only political actor, and he attained this status by sophisticated PR technologies. But how fragile the state of affairs is! Real stability is different from its virtual representation.
Putin is now choosing between essence and technology. Both options involve risks, dangers, and unpredictable consequences. Such is the Chechen path to Russian statehood – strewed with mines, ambushes, corpses, crimes, blood, and tears. But time goes by swiftly and the date of the presidential election in Chechnya is approaching. Something has to be done, because one must not sit idling.
People who care about the destiny of new Russia are in suspense. Too many things depend on the Chechen situation. Who will Chechnya be entrusted to? What option will be chosen? What is on the cards? Every nuance in the Chechen issue abounds in huge historic import. It is one thing if the problem is delegated to the Kremlin’s political pundits, and quite another thing if it is devoted to the patriots of the Motherland and proponents of Eurasian unity. All subsequent steps and consequences will follow the logic of the chosen course; and as a chain of developments unfolds, its inertia and pressure will preclude radical changes in the situation.
Alexander Dugin is the Chairman of the Eurasia political party, leader of the international Eurasia movement, geopolitician. This article was originally published in Russian in the Vremya Novostei newspaper, June 22, 2004.