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The main message of the rally was "Russia will not bow to terrorism!"
In many Russian cities yesterday, rallies were held for people to show their solidarity with Beslan and condemn terrorists. Despite heavy rain, over 130,000 people gathered near the Kremlin walls. The signs they were carrying expressed their attitude better than words and fortunately for President Putin, these attitudes seemed to be largely in line with what he had said in his weekend address to the nation. The main message of the rally was "Russia will not bow to terrorism!" However, there was also a large banner with a slogan written in English, which was not an appeal to the Russian authorities, but to the West, in particular, London. The banner said: "Want to help? Extradite terrorist Zakayev!" London has refused to extradite Zakayev, one of Maskhadov's accomplices and the leader of the Chechen militant group that invaded neighboring Dagestan several years ago. Zakayev is responsible for many deaths, and the invasion of Dagestan triggered the second Chechen war, which finally toppled Maskhadov's regime. Many Western politicians, despite their antiterrorism rhetoric and endorsements of Russia's territorial integrity, seem to be sorry that the Maskhadov regime fell. This is the only plausible reason for the recent statement from U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher, who considered it necessary to emphasize, that the United States and Russia had differing opinions on some representatives of Chechen separatists (at a time when the children killed in the Beslan hostage taking tragedy have not been buried yet). "That's an old story," he said. "We've had different views of certain individuals. I think that's been known for some time," he said. This is an old story indeed: for a long time the West has been pressuring the Kremlin to begin negotiations with Maskhadov, even though his terrorist connections are undoubted and Russia despises him as much as America despises Osama bin Laden. Under Maskhadov, a Sharia court ruled that people could be executed on the central square near the city hall, like in the Middle Ages. Under Maskhadov, the money Moscow sent to local pensioners was stolen, all railroad traffic through Grozny was subject to highway robbery, people were sold into slavery and thousands of Russians and Chechens who could not stand the bandit rule fled Chechnya. Maskhadov was ingenious in managing a bandit regime in Russia's own backyard. Arbi Barayev, the main slave trader in Chechnya, was charged with slavery and summoned to the Sharia court. In court, he pleaded not guilty with his hand on the Koran, which was enough for the court to acquit him and let him continue to run his deadly "business." These are the facts. This author was lucky enough to personally review some of the records of Maskhadov's prosecutors that were seized by the federal authorities. What we have to admit is that prosecutors under Maskhadov objectively - though barely competently - recorded part of the crimes committed, but they could not cope with Maskhadov, his security force, which was too busy robbing the locals, or the various warlords. Shamil Basayev, currently at the top of the UN's list of most wanted terrorists, held a high-level government position. Being the minister of fuel and energy, he was overtly stealing Chechen oil. The prosecutors knew this and even wrote memos to Maskhadov, in an attempt to have him on their side. However, they were unsuccessful. Is this the portrait of an "adequate politician" the West is advising Putin to negotiate with?
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