February 10, 2006, In Stavropolsky Kray - 100 miles away from Georgia, 200 miles away from Grozny, 16 "Chechen" (probably foreign) terrorists have fought a gun battle for the last 24 hours against Russian police and soldiers. Russian forces have used attack helicopters, tanks, and 300 troops to destroy several buildings in the village and kill 11 of the enemy fighters. Five jihadists, however, escaped from security forces.
One should ask: what about the human rights of ordinary Russian citizens? Well, the Russian army's first mission is to provide security and stability inside Russia (Chechnya is one of the Russia's 89 administrative regions, the equivalent of a U.S. state or territory). It was the inhabitants of Tukui-Mekteb, a town of 3,000 people near the city of Stavropal, who called local police to report huge stockpiles of ammunition and explosives hidden in a nearby house.
Four police officers responded to the citizen's tip. When they showed up to check out the house, they were shot dead by the terrorists with machine guns. Several minutes after this shooting, Russian Spetznaz commandos arrived, only to find that the jihadists had fled with their weapons. The 16 foreign fighters were reportedly part of a terrorist cell recruited by Shamil Basayev and the veteran Arab jihadist Hattab (who was recently killed by FSB forces).
The rest of this battle in the Long War on terrorism has not been reported by the major Western media outlets. FoxNews' current top story is about a 37 pound woman giving birth; CNN reports that the former head of FEMA feels "abandoned" by the Bush White House; ABC News' big story is that their anchor Vargas will be expecting her first child. The Russian part of the global war that touches everyone, including Americans, never gets reported in any depth. Maybe that's why the Westerners have a difficult time understanding why Putin has invited Hamas leaders to Moscow.
I am not a fan of Putin, but as the West fails to recognize Russia's real problems, Mr. Putin keeps on surprising me with the shrewdness of his decisions. I know that selling weapons to Iran is bad, and the reasons why are listed here, but Putin inherited all of these problems when he took the job from the drunk Yeltsin.
Russia's oligarchs, who command ten places on the Forbes magazine list of the world's richest individuals, have net worths estimated conservatively at between 5 to 14 billion dollars. Unofficially (because in Russia everything is unofficial) they probably have 3 to 5 times more. All of them are young (mid to late 30s), uneducated, without real practical contributions to business innovation or the economy (besides Abramovich's investment of 1.5 billion dollars in the English Premier League's Chelsea Soccer Club).These young wealthy college drop-outs have gorged themselves on the fat carcass of the Soviet Empire. And there's still plenty left to steal. As long as there is this enormous wealth of natural resources being stolen and re-distributed, neither Putin nor any other KGB retiree will be able to bring back the rule of law and transparency.
There is no professional army in Russia, because there is no tax money to create one to fight terrorism. Russians ask with justification: why should we bother pleasing America and the West, if they will take the side of the people who wrecked Russia (see above)? Russia has no friends, Russia must fend for itself..
To our readers who are upset over Putin's overture to Hamas terrorists, think: what are the real political and business relations between Russia and Palestine? Save for Kalashnikovs and other weapons smuggled in via Iran and Syria, none! So what is the danger of having the Hamas-Putin event? Giving Hamas legitimacy? Hamas has already claimed legitimacy for itself through suicide bombings, the ballot box, and now calling for the deaths of the Mohammed cartoonists in Europe and smashing EU offices in Gaza. There is absolutely nothing practical that will evolve out of this trip. Nothing.
However, there could be some intangible benefit for the Russian nation: Russians will "show" the Muslim world their tolerance and acceptance of Islamists. They will show that they can have a diplomatic meeting with Islamic fascists, and maybe at the end of the day, when this humiliating act of "diplomacy" is executed, there will be few less bombings around Russia (but I doubt it).
I would also strongly urge Western leaders to:
1) stop supporting the oligarchs who ruined Russia and accepting their tainted money.
2) start reporting real news about the suffering of ordinary Russians due to jihad and the army draft.
3) let countries decide their own foreign policy, as long as they don't hurt the other nations
UPDATE: As I was about to post the article, the news came in that the five terrorists who escaped the first battle were snipers. They have dispersed around the village and are shooting at everything that moves. One of the jihadists blew himself up, killing three police officers who tried to arrest him. Thank God, there are no reports of civilian casulties at this hour.
UPDATE 2: ITAR-TASS has the names of the Russian policemen killed fighting the terrorists here:
"Lieutenant Ivan Voronin, 21, died in the Neftekumsk hospital, regional police told Itar-Tass. The other fatalities are Captain Dmitry Dermansky, 26, Senior Lieutenant Artyom Yudin, 21, Lieutenant Yevgeny Kharchenko, 25, Sergeant Vladimir Bubnov, 21, and Ensign Andrei Silin, 31.
"Another police officer - Ensign Vladimir Gorbov -- is still reported missing, but his colleagues believe it was his body that was found after the operation near the house from which the militants had been firing back."