I was thinking tonight about writing an article about that. No, what you say is all incorrect because you make a wrong assumption at the very beginning.
Do they not deserve the chance to live on their own
Who are "they"? This is a tricky question. The fighters represent feelings of less than few percent of chechen population. The rest is peacefully living in cities and villages, and has to be protected from these fighters by chechen own police force, and sometimes russian army. Fighters are more like IRA, where the rest of population is peaceful and wants nothing to do with the fighting; and the population does not need fighting, and hardly expects any benefits from it.
Think of army as peacekeepers. This function is needed because the "rebels" want to kill all chechens who are against them. We can be sure about it because that's what the "rebels" did last time they were in power. They even demanded extradition of their political opponents from Russia, and executed them.
The fact is that the Russian government is forcefully controlling the chechen people - this fact is incorrect, as I stated above. Majority of chechens do not need to be controlled, and they are not controlled. They elected local administration, they have national police force, and generally they just want to live in peace. That they now have, and they are not "oppressed" in any way. There is no military activity in cities and villages for more than two years - because there is no need to.
The "rebels" hate russians, but they hate their own people even more. They are not "freedom fighters" against "evil empire", they are more like an archaic feudal empire against modern democracy. That is because they hate democracy - last time they ruled, they instituted absolute monarchy of clan leaders (yes, they still have clans and all other signs of a tribal society).
if the chechens don't know what to do with their freedom then that's their business.
That does not work this way. But Russia followed your advice even before you gave it. Chechnya was allowed to exist as chechens saw fit - from 1990 (when they declared independence) to something about 1995, when they went too far the first time. All these years they were totally independent. What did they do then? They opened a crime haven in Chechnya, and engaged in all sorts of crimes themselves. This resulted in many deaths, including deaths of foreigners, inside and outside of Chechnya. Do you consider this to be an acceptable development? What do you do with a hostile country that attacks you?
Another thing to consider is that minority oppressed the majority. I am not only talking about non-chechens, they were oppressed as matter of course. I am talking about chechens themselves. Not everyone was violent, not everyone wanted to raid the neighbors, not everyone was lucky to belong to a ruling clan. These became prey for the rest. They couldn't fight back because, by definition, they were peaceful, or old, or not trained to fight, or just had not enough bravery.
What you advocate is possible again, but only if you can come up with an impenetrable barrier around Chechnya. Then yes, Russia will "free" them in an istant, exactly as they were free before. But such a barrier does not exist, and as result you'd get all sorts of cross-border attacks, crimes and terrorism. One of most popular activities of "free chechens" was to hijack buses with children in Krasnodar region (near Chechnya), demand millions of dollars, and if given - flee to Chechnya, where no pursuit was possible. Is this what you want to happen again?
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