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Friday, March 11, 2005

Russia Lashes out at Poland Over Maskhadov Comments

Check this out:

Moscow is perplexed by a statement from Polish Foreign Ministry official representative Aleksander Checko, who called the murder of the Chechen separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov “a political stupidity and a gross mistake”, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s information and press department said in a commentary published on an official Web site Thursday.

Maskhadov, the document says, had the blood of thousands of Russian people, including children, on his hands, because it’s widely known that terrorist attacks in Beslan, Moscow, and other Russian cities were committed at his direct orders. “If all this is called Maskhadov’s efforts towards a political settlement in Chechnya, Poland evidently has a distorted view of processes of this kind and the fight against international terrorism on the whole,” the Russian Foreign Ministry claims.

“A question arises: will Poland use analogous phrases to regret the elimination of murderous terrorist Shamil Basayev, who is on the UN antiterrorist sanction list, or Osama bin Laden?” the statement reads.

I don't know what this is all about, but Checko (who I have never heard of before) is getting backup from his boss, Foreign Minister Adam Rotfeld. A quick glance at Polish news shows he said something like this (my own rough translation):

"The crime committed by terrorists in Russia, in Chechnya, and in Beslan deserve the sharpest words of condemnation. For the criminals who "had the blood of thousands of Russian people, including children on their hands" there is no justification. The thing is, Aslan Maskhadov was horrified at the tragedy in Beslan. He may have been the only Chechen elected president who wanted to seek an agreement. The terrorist Shamil Basayev is not a partner for discussions."

Rotfeld (search) has been stirring things up since he took over for Cimoszewicz (now speaker of the Sejm, Poland's lower house of parliament). He's recently been crying bloody murder over some Polish publisher's decision to release Mein Kampf. -- Given our recent discussions, you can imagine what I think of that.

This has huge implications on Kwasniewski's trip to Russia to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Yalta. Obviously, the Poles consider Yalta the great betrayal, and its aftermath a 45-year tragedy, so his plans have stirred up quite some controversy.

Relations are still tense after the Ukraine crisis, and while Kwasniewski agreed to go grudgingly -- "We want to talk about the gratitude for those who freed Europe with blood, but also about the political decisions which were then taken and cast a shadow over the fate of nations, such as Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Poland" -- it was hoped that this would help push relations in a warmer direction.

If Belka backs up Rotfeld, there is certainly no hope of that, at least not in the near future.


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