Friday, November 23, 2007

Chechen latest

Interesting news about Chechnya. The London-based foreign minister Zakayev is now PM of a soi-disant govt-in-exile, whose members will be announced in the next two weeks. This has been elected by 21 surviving members of the last freely elected (pre-war) parliament. It appears to have broken links with the remaining military resistance in Chechnya which should improve its ability to lobby in the West and may help it shake off the stigma that associates the Chechen independence cause with terrorism and organised crime.

I was at a meeting yesterday to launch a posthumously published book of Alexander Litvinenko's writings. The panel included his father, plus Oleg Gordievsky, Vladimir Bukovsky and Zakayev.

The highlight of the afternoon was Bukovsky's speech. From my notes

I know that I will not be allowed to register [in the Russian presidential election].. The central election commission said I would 'never ever' be allowed to participate even before they had seen a single one of my documents...My task is like it was 50 years ago [when he was a dissident risking imprisonment and psychiatric abuse], to come to the scared disheartened country...say that we were even fewer then and they were stronger, but now we are alive and they are dead...the best thing you can do is stand up and say "I am not afraid". I don't know what the response will be but will try and try and try again until either they kill me or they give up [power]

On the West's response to the murder of Litvinenko, he said

In the 19th century the Royal Navy would have sailed to St Petersburg and bombarded was casus belli. Even in 20th century we would have withdrawn our ambassador. Britain never admitted even that [the murder] was an act of aggression. It should have invoked Article V [of the Nato charter] We should kick Russia out of all international organisations. All NATO countries should have visa ban for Russian high officials. Shamefully, the policy was appeasement.

No comments: