Russian outrage over executions in Chechnya

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The Independent Online
Television pictures of the public execution of a man and woman in Chechnya have caused an outcry in Moscow and led public prosecutors to begin an investigation that could result in murder charges.

The killings are an attempt by the Chechen president, Aslan Maskhadov, to end an epidemic of kidnappings which has turned the republic into a no-go zone for outsiders. The real issue behind the Russian reaction may have more to do with oil politics than human rights.

The executions coincided with negotiations over a crucial oil pipeline, and many believe the wave of Russian outrage was an attempt to put the Chechens under more pressure. With a deal now signed, and two further executions planned for today, the question arises: will Moscow still care?