Andrey Nikolaev: It will take no less than 15 years to fully settle Chechnya

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It will take not less than 15 years to fully settle Chechnya, Andrey Nikolayev, chairman of the State Duma Defense Committee, said in an interview with the Moskovskiy Komsomolets daily, published on Thursday.
"There are much more troops than prescribed now in Chechnya. But the military presence is decreasing, while concealed shooting, explosions, and sabotage will last long, may be five to 10 to 15 years," he said.

"After the treacherous Khasavyurt Agreements, nothing was done for three years to prepare the Armed Forces for military action in the special environment," he added. Meanwhile, the Chechens were much freer in purchasing weapons and ammunition directly from producers, and now they employ Russian- and Soviet- made weaponry, he also said.

"At those times, Chernomyrdin (then the Russian prime minister - Interfax-AVN) demanded that governmental leaders cooperate with Chechnya. In particular, there was an agreement between the Russian and Chechen Interior Ministries, and there were similar agreements in other departments. On their basis, Chechnya quite legally purchased weapons in Russia. Furthermore, they also had a criminal weapons supply channel," Nikolayev said.

In Nikolayev's opinion, it is next to impossible to be intact in an as small area as Chechnya under tight law enforcement action.

"I just have no idea why Maskhadov, Basayev, and other warlords are not being taken (arrested - Interfax-AVN). This is a question both the President and the Government ought to be concerned with. There are questions to all forces. I ask top officials and I have no exhaustive answers. At the same time, I can see that those who fulfill orders do face problems. Treason is a rare thing among mission-makers," he said.

He added there is no need for a state of emergency in Chechnya now. "Yes, there is military action there but there is no war, for the employment fraction of the Armed Forces is much less than in 1995. It is the Federal Security Service, rather than the Defense Ministry, that is in charge," Nikolayev said. (Interfax-AVN)