Kevin Bjorke
Kevin Bjorke
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Missile Salesman, Seoul (C) 2003 K. Bjorke Tomorrow, “officially,” is the day of election-like activities in Chechnya.

I’m surprised — alarmed, really — at how many Americans are blissfully unaware of the situation in Chechnya. We think the war ended half a decade ago (if they were even aware of that), and are unaware of the second war. We remember the Moscow Theatre Massacre, but are completely unaware of the human rights situation in Chechnya. We are unaware of how many Russian soldiers die there every week, in greater numbers and with far less conviction than the U.S. victims in Iraq. We’re unaware of how the fighting has spread to Ingushetia, where now the number of Chechen refugees is as great as the original population of the republic, and how the separatists have fanned-out to neighboring states like Azerbaijan (recent new site of U.S. air bases), Iraq, and Afghanistan.

It’s easy to wring one’s hands over the evils of the world, or to earnestly hope that Somebody will do Something. But even this doesn’t seem to happen — these events go on daily as non-stories, not just under-reported but unreported.

People in Spain and Germany march in the street against the US coalition in Baghdad. It’s certainly their prerogative — it’s great fun to wear a grotesque Bush mask and complain about the oil business. But why do these people say nothing about Grozny? Who has decided that these people, Chechens and Russians alike, are worth so little?