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Last night’s BBC documentary Putin, Russia and The West contained perhaps the most powerful and disturbing footage broadcast on terrestrial television yet.
A boy from a village in Chechnya is dragged out of his home by Russian soldiers, he is heard screaming for his life – ‘hy-aa Allah’ – and the narrator tells us that his body was found much later buried in a Russian base.
The pictures which were shot before the Moscow Theatre siege, and of course much earlier than Beslan, are perhaps also the first hard proof of what Russia’s soldiers were doing as they attempted to reconquer Chechnya for their president, Vladimir Putin.
Russia’s military doctrine when it comes to conquering and reconquering its restive Muslim provinces has been simple – the harder you hit them, the less likely they are to come back again.
Russia’s soldiers were of course the original ethnic cleansers, a process that began under Ivan the Terrible is still ongoing to this day in the Caucasus republics of Chechnya, Dagestan and Ingush Settia.
Little wonder then that the West has found it hard to accommodate Russia as a part of Europe or Nato.