Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Crackdown in Chechnya threatens European integration. UPDATE!

Just a month after historic Schengen visa free travel area expansion, Western Europe, in particular Österreich and Deutschland are struggling with a wave of newcomers. Immigrant crowds besiegeing former domain of Charlemagne aren't nationals of the countries, which joined the EU in 2004 big bang enlargement, but largely asylum seekers from war torn Russian North Caucasus republic of Chechnya (see Wiki on Chechnya).

The leading political portal of the EU, "EU Observer" conveys following news:

Just one month after the EU's borderless zone expanded to eight countries in central and eastern Europe, some EU capitals, particularly Berlin and Vienna, has started saying it has led to increased flows of migrants.

According to data from Germany's interior ministry, approximately 420 people were caught in the country's border area with Poland and the Czech Republic in the last three weeks. Many of those detained were reported to be asylum seekers from Chechnya, Russia's region seeking independence, who had applied for protection in the two EU states. Others were of Ukrainian and Vietnamese origin.

With regard to refugees from Chechnya, Europe is in difficult position, because the horrors associated with the Kremlin forces and local Kadyrov clique present in the region are widely recognized, therefore Europe feels entitled, under European set of values, to provide shelter to the victims. The refugees thus have their asylum status in countries across Eastern Europe. They should not, however, legally travel elsewhere, Deutsche Welle reports.

Yet they care little for legal provisions and do travel to richer countries in numbers, such as Germany, causing problems there, as reported in Austrian der Standard and even "threaten" the locals, according to another paper (see articles on Chechen problem in German press, temporary link).

As always, Russian press exploded in stories about criminal activities Chechens or should they be called Russian citizens of Chechen ethnicity, are allegedly perpetrating in Europe in what I can assume is an attempt to justify genocidal actions of Russia's own troops. The leading news portal, Newsru.com says that "a wave of Chechen immigrants has led to increased violence in Austria". Through a separate piece Newsru.com attempts to back this claim by a reference to Financial Times, but the relevant FT story doesn't mention any increase in violent crime. Russian insistence of Chechen "violent nature" is understandable, because in Russia a notion of Chechens as dangerous, knife wielding thugs is cultivated.

Newsru.com has, however other references, in particular to one infamous far-right Austrian politician. While I recognize that far-right politicians can be stating correct facts, I fail to see the alleged violence in mainstream German media in as far as I am able to follow it, yet for Russians it's "a fact" already.

The whole Chechen migration wave, if perceived so sensitively by the Western member states de notre belle union could become a source of tensions within the block (hitting us, in narrow or in broad sense). But the real cause of this has very little to do with Eastern European EU countries and it has everything to do, as you may have guessed already, with Russian Jamahiriya and her inhuman policies.


The UK can become next country to expect wave of asylum seekers as notorious Russian secret service, the FSB, declared its intention to conduct something like fake prevention and advocacy work among the Russian employees of the outlawed British Council representations in Russia. Major online news outlets in Russia, including Lenta.ru report. FSB press-release, cited by the media tells with well familiar Stalinist tone:

"В целях ограждения российских граждан от возможного втягивания в качестве инструмента в провокационные игры британцев органы Федеральной службы безопасности начали проводить разъяснительную работу среди российских граждан - сотрудников этой организации о ситуации, складывающейся вокруг Британского совета, и позиции органов власти России в отношении филиалов этой организации в российских регионах"

"With the goal of protecting Russian citizens from possible involvement as a tool of the British provocative games, the Federal Security Service began conducting enlightment work among the employees of that organization, informing them about the situation, which formed around the British Council and about the position of the Russian authorities with regard to representations of the organization in the Russian regions"

Enlightment work by the FSB is too well known and in my opinion if it is allowed to go on, the UK will have moral obligation to evacuate its personnel lacking diplomatic protection from Russia.

UPDATE 2, Jan 17, 2008

It seems the Brits understood the message and finally stopped playing their "provocative games" by closing their "sabotage and espionage centres". How many days lasted the British "defiance"? How many British bomber airctrafts flew out to partol the Russian borders? How many British "leftist activists" on FSB payroll were suddenly "disabled"? If you have no simple answer to these questions you won't be taken serious in Russia. One should understand that the time of diplomatic games has passed. Today it's all about energy, power and realpolitik.

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