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You're reading: Russian nationalists, leftists and Chechens debate future of North Caucasus

The participants were unusually blunt. Dmitry Bakharev, the head of the Slavic Force Movement, opened the debate by arguing that “over the course of centuries, [his] ancestors had assembled these lands with their blood, worked and defended them,” pointedly asking “and what contribution to the general development of Russia has been made by the Chechen people?”

Arguing that the Russians, not the Soviets had defeated Hitler, Bakharev enquired “how can [we] build relations if we know about the disappearance of several dozen Russians in Grozny, about the bestial murders of Russian soldiers in Chechnya? [and] ifin Moscow, there is a street named for a man who called for killing as many Russians as possible.

Zelimkhan Musayev, the Chechen minister for foreign ties, nationality policy, press and information, disputed Bakharev’s argument. He argued that the Soviet Union won in World War II “only thanks to the trust among peoples.” Moreover, he pointed out, “the Caucasus war did not last a century; it lasted only 25 years”.

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