LETTERS: Why Chechnya should not secede

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The Independent Online
From Mr Randhir Singh Bains Sir: Abdal Hakim Murad is quite right (letter, 31 December) to say that the Chechens are ethnically different people and, therefore, must have the right to secede from the Russian federation.

However, Chechnya did exercise this right in 1991 but no country in the world, including Muslim nations, was prepared to recognise its sovereignty and independence.

It is not difficult to see why Chechnya failed to win its rightful place among the community of nations. It is a tiny republic known mostly for its extensive and brutal mafia network; it has been a part of Russia since the mid-1800s; it has virtually no law and order machinery in place because, last year alone, there were 180 train robberies and a bank scandal which cost the Russian tax payers over £4bn. Even the current crisis stemmed from the President Dudayev's unlawful act of threatening to kill 21 captive Russian soldiers.

The principle of self-determination is important because, historically, it acted as the main driving force behind the campaign to dismantle empires and to create more responsive, stable and democratic governments. Given the prevailing situation in Chechnya, there is no reason to believe that an independent Chechnya would be a progressive democracy. On the contrary, its secession from the Russian federation would result in more chaos and instability in the volatile Caucasus region.

Yours faithfully, RANDHIR SINGH BAINS Gants Hill, Essex