For Discussion Forum 6, please address any of the questions below. As always: you are required to make a minimum of THREE (3) posts per module. At least one of your three posts should be your own original comment; at least one – should be a response to or comment on something another classmate has posted; the third post can be either your own original post or a comment on a classmate’s post. Keep in mind that your response should NOT simply be a summary of the assigned reading. A higher grade will be awarded to posts that demonstrate student’s ability to provide an original interpretation of the topic while also applying relevant concepts, issues, and theories covered in the module.
1. Read the article from The Guardian titled "St.Petersburg residents reject bridge honoring former Chechen leader. (链接到外部网站。)" discussing an unusual controversy that just recently unfolded in my hometown of St.Petersburg. Based on the information of this module (and any other information you've learned in this class), provide your own insight and expert analysis of the situation as a cultural anthropologist of contemporary Russia. What are the roots of the issue discussed in the article? How do you think citizens of your country / home town would have reacted if they had to deal with a situation equivalent to the one described?
2. While discussing Anna Politkovskaya's stories from Chechnya, Prof. Georgi Derluguian writes that Politkovskaya "does not romanticize the Chechen guerrillas and barely refers to their purported struggle for national independence. Her sympathy is with the civilians, the medical personnel and especially the women..." (p.24). Based on the two samples of Politkovskaya's prose (and another one of her essays that you can hear in the documentary 211:Anna), agree or disagree with Prof. Derluguian's statement. Did you find Politkovskaia's prose effective in delivering the message of the brutality and horrific impact on individual lives on both ends of this war? (Russia and Chechnya).
3. Discuss the unique and perhaps somewhat paradoxical position of Chechnya within the Russian Federation, especially today, during Vladimir Putin's third presidential term. What is your take on the "Chechenization" debate discussed in the "Prisoners of the Caucasus" article (esp. pp. 29 - 30)? How does the documentary Chechnya. War Without a Trace contribute to your opinion on this debate?
4. What is your opinion in the debate of Chechen's secession? As you read in this module, some critics argue that the Chechens had good moral grounds for claiming independence in November 1991; others content that Boris Yeltsin had solid reasons, defensible in legal terms, for defending Russia's territorial integrity. Some also argue that even if Moscow had granted Chechnya independence, this would not have created peace and stability. Make sure to support your arguments with facts that you have learned.
5. Read Maria Lipman's essay Freedom of Expression without Freedom of the Pressthat discusses the general apathy and cynicism of today's Russians. As an example Lipman quotes statistics that only 6% of Russians were aware of any of the writings of the assassinated anti-establishment journalist, Anna Politkovskaia. From what you know (through the course readings and viewings), how can you explain the public indifference of the Russian population? Are you at all surprised that a vast majority of Russians don't even know the names of human rights activists, such as Natalia Estremova, Stanislav Markelov, or Anastasia Baburova, killed over the past decade?
6. An interesting topic that seems to surface from several documentaries we have seen so far is the attempt of today's Russian state to unite the country through a "manufactured" view of the world (this, of course, ties into the famous 1988 book Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of Mass Media by Noah Chomsky and Edward Herman, who argue that mass media in the U.S. is a powerful ideological tool that defends economic, political and social agendas of the "dominant elite."). First, discuss specific examples of this argument in the Chechnya. War Without a Trace documentary. Second, discuss whether media in any country (including the U.S.) creates such a "manufactured view of the world" based on the country's current cultural, socio-economic and political values.
the two peer review I choose to write about is below:
"Hi, I answered question #4 about the Chechen secession.
My opinions of the Chechen situation are very clearly a product of my environment of experiences. I represent a lot of minorities, so I am constantly feeling discrimination and being pushed down or told no. This leads me to always want to “fight the man,” which gives me a liberal view on the situation, saying that the Chechen people should have been able to secede and be free. They obviously would not have tried if they were not in full conviction that it was in their best interest and worth the risk. I believe Boris Yeltsin did make some fair points, but there is always information to see on both sides of such a large and fueled conflict, which I will discuss more in depth later. As far as I am aware, it has never been legal or encouraged for a state or territory to secede from its country, but secession commonly happens anyway and is often a good thing in the long run. A lot of issues with secession, civil wars, or similar things always have so many different sides/views and at least some people are always going to end up on the wrong side of history with them.
In reference to the comment that their secession would not have created peace and stability, I would have to agree, which does contradict my view of fighting the man and winning independence. Their freedom would create immediate happiness and boost in morale for the Chechen people, just as any revolution, secession, or victory has, like the USA winning independence from Britain or the Allies coming back from WWII. This boost and immediate peace are indisputable, but after things settle down, I believe they would have had some issues, as all countries do, but Chechnya very well could have been much worse. I suggest this because, in the readings, it is described that Chechnya brought a lot of oil and therefore money to Russia. It would have been very difficult for that much of the oil industry to change countries; it would majorly affect both of their economies. I am not sure if Chechnya would have been able to fully survive on their own, with their own resources, without any assistance or trading with Russia. This is of course along with Russia’s economy being greatly hurt by the oil resources. Also, most new countries and their first few constitutions tend to fail, so true, long-lasting peace in Chechnya would have been very difficult and taken a long time to achieve if they ever would have long term.
I feel like the situation should have diffused in 1991 after Dzhokhar Dudayevdeclared independence because everything just escalated and became more dangerous after that, like the Guerilla warfare and theater attack. Russia should have accepted the fate of Chechen independence because it was caused by their own issues anyway; it was their central Russian government’s fault that all of the different territories fought for and declared independence, yet they took it all out on Chechnya, harming hundreds of thousands of individuals. Even though it may not have been technically legal to secede(as the notes presentation explains), it is also not okay for the Russian government to kill thousands and thousands of people through the wars and other attacks, especially since these people being killed are the ones that Russia wants as their citizens. During the first war, Yeltsin and the government had the right to attempt to take control because Chechnya was a region of their’s and was very beneficial to their economy(with their oil industry), but after they had declared independence and thousands of people had already been killed, I think Russia should have cut their losses and prevented more violence. Although the law was on their side, I still believe Russia did not do the right thing when entering the second Chechen war, especially since their intentions include using Chechnya for their resources and erasing their identity.
On the side of the Chechen, they had been fighting this fight for significantly longer than just the wars in the ’90s. The Washington Post article explains that they have been trying to get independence at least since WWII and Stalin’s era. The government had been over controlling and trying to change Chechen ways and religious practices long before that. They have constantly been trying to erase Chechen history and identity, so I see that as a major reason why Chechnya should have been able to be independent along with their passion/drive to fight Russia (just as many other did at this time). Knowing this context and the horrors that occurred throughout this conflict make me agree that Chechnya had good moral reasoning to declare independence and fight Russia, making Russia out to be in the wrong."
"Responding to question 1:
The issue in this article was that a bridge was to be named after Akhmad Kadyrov. There are already 77,000 signatures against doing so, and citizens have even come up with an alternative person to name the bridge after, named Anna Akhmatova (poet). Why are people so upset about this? Well, there are multiple reasons. First off, Akhmad Kadyrov never has had any ties to the city of St. Petersburg. Personally I would not want to name something in my town after someone with no connect to the area, and I will touch more on that later. Another reason for this conflict is because Kadyrov was the one to order Chechens to “kill as many Russians as possible.” Yes, Chechnya is apart of Russia, but there is a great disconnect between Russia and Chechnya because of these killings. The people of St. Petersburg still are not okay with what happened and because Kadyrov was responsible for it, they can’t bear having a bridge named after him. After all, whenever they cross this bridge they will begin to think about him, thus causing them to think about the killings as well. Many of those people who were killed are buried in St. Petersburg as well, so family members of those who died are even less happy about this I am sure. The final root I am going to touch on is relating to Akhmad’s son. His son has been accused of a variety of terrible acts including torture, execution, and abductions. Most sane people do not agree with any of these acts, so of course this is another reason for the conflict.
If this type of situation happened in my home town, I am sure citizens, including myself, would have reacted similarly. Like I said previously, I would not want something in my town named after someone with no connect to me whatsoever. Especially if this person had caused people I knew and loved to die. Not to mention if this person’s son was being accused of torture, execution, and abductions. They could be untrue, but if they were in fact true I am not sure how I would react. Whenever seeing this bridge citizens of my town would think of death and terrible acts which would put a significant damper on any day."