Letter: Horror in Chechnya

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The Independent Culture
Sir: In his otherwise admirable survey of the renewed war in Chechnya and the Western governments' attitude to it ("Stalin's heirs are still at work in the Caucasus", 30 October), Fergal Keane appears to accept the widely held view that the recent horrendous bombings in Moscow and Volgodonsk were the work of Chechens.

This, however plausible it may be, is as yet unsubstantiated. Four men named in the Russian press as wanted by the police in connection with the explosions were not Chechens but members of a quite separate Caucasian nationality, the Karachai.

The Karachai, like the Chechens and other Caucasian peoples, were deported to Central Asia in the Second World War. But their territory does not adjoin Chechnya, and they may have grievances unrelated to those of the Chechens.

This in no way mitigates the responsibility of the suspects, if found guilty of carrying out the bombings in Russia. But the ferocity of the present Russian offensive against Chechnya underlines the need for extreme care in apportioning blame.