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Monday, March 14, 2005

Russia Made Poland Apologize


Last weekend Russia and Poland tried to ease the scandal produced by the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. They commented on the murder of Aslan Maskhadov, a leader of Chechen separatists. Warsaw apologized for crack-brained utterance of the official representative of the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Moscow accepted an apology.

The scandal broke on March 9, the next day the information on Maskhadov’s death appeared. Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs was one of the first who reacted on the happening. Alexander Checko, the official representative of the Polish diplomacy, expressed regret in connection with the death of Ichkeria president. He said the killed was the only high ranked representative it was possible to negotiate with. “The one who has ordered to kill him doesn’t want to conclude a peaceful agreement. That is not just a crime. That is political stupidity and a big mistake.”

It took Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs 24 hours to realize what Checko had said. Finaly, on Thursday, Russian ministry made up their declaration. “As it is known, Maskhadov gave orders to commit acts of terrorism in Beslan, Moscow and other cities of Russia. He is responsible for the deaths of the thousands of people, including children. The Polish ministry has a perverted sense of peaceful processes once they say that Maskhadov was striving to peacefully regulate the situation.” Moscow was wondering if Poland would regret on the death of Shamil Basayev or Osama Bin Laden.

The scandal reached Madrid, where Polish Prime Minister, Marek Belka came for the international meeting dedicated to the struggle with terror. According to Belka, the Polish diplomat gave a dramatic turn to an incident above measure. He just wanted to say that the Chechen problem is being solved only by means of rifles. “We never justified the crimes the Chechen terrorists had committed against Russian people.”

Later it became known that Sergei Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia called his Polish colleague Adam Rotfeld. Rotfeld only expressed regret and said that this was not the official position of Warsaw.

Then Sergei Yastrzhembsky, Russian president's special representative on relations with the EU, said: “Polish comments on the death of Aslan Maskhadov cause bewilderment. Apparently the one, who estimated the event didn’t know, didn’t understand or didn’t want to understand the role of Maskhadov. It’s necessary to puzzle out the subject before making declarations.” He also added that it’s quite often that Polish elite judges the present that is seen through the perspective of years. "The historical experience of the past gives a deformed vision of the present quite often.”

It's not just the Polish elite. Sheesh -- 50 years of vicious oppression and the Poles are still accusing the Russians of brutality?

Can you say Katyn?

In the spring of 1940, about 4,500 of these officers were taken by their Soviet captors to the Katyn forest. Most were then gagged, bound, shot once in the head and buried on the spot. The other Polish POWs were taken to other locations, where many of them were also executed. The mass liquidation killed off much of Poland's intelligentsia and facilitated the Soviet takeover of the nation.

Is it any wonder the Poles are so critical?

Look, I don't know whether Maskhadov was behind Beslan, et. al. or not. (Perhaps one of the WS readers can provide us with a link to hard evidence -- or at least the reasons behind the accusations.)

But while Rotfeld may have later apologized, we all know that he didn't want to -- and no one here thought he was out of line either -- mostly because everybody here knows exactly what kind of heavy handed-measures the Russians are capable of, and is sure the Russians are engaging in it them in Chechnya, whether Maskhadov in particular was guilty or not.


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