Exhibit: “Chechnya: The Final Solution”
“An exhibition of 300 pictures with the chilling name of “”Chechnya: The Final Solution”” opens Friday in Krakow City Hall.
The exhibition depicts Russian military atrocities against Chechen rebels and civilians. The Russians and Chechen rebels have fought two recent wars over Chechen efforts to become independent. The Second Chechen War is still under way.
Adam Borowski, the honorary Polish consul for the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, said the name of the exhibition is appropriate. The Nazis used the term “”final solution”” to refer to the mass extermination of Jews, and Borowski said that kind of extermination is occurring in Chechnya now.
Poland’s new prime minister, Donald Tusk, has said he wants to improve Polish-Russian relations. Borowski said he hopes that improvement won’t harm Chechnya’s efforts to achieve independence.
“”I hope everybody will remember this nation,”” he said. Certainly “”everyone who sees this exhibition will become a different man.””
The photos show many civilians who have been wounded, tortured and killed in the Russians’ effort to snuff out resistance. Some photos are so graphic that exhibition organizers covered them with black paper. Viewers are told they can look at the photos if they want, but they are warned about their graphic nature.
Non-Russian war correspondents took the photos. One of the authors of text that accompanies the photos was Nowa Gazeta journalist Anna Politkowska, who was murdered in 2006, presumably for reporting on Russian atrocities in Chechnya. Another text author is human rights defender Siergiej Kowalow.
The exhibit includes reports of the atrocities from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
The First Chechen War, from 1994 to 1996, started when Russian forces moved in to stop Chechnya from seceding. Human rights organizations say 4,000 Chechen combatants and 35,000 civilians died in that conflict.
The Second Chechen War started in 1999. According to the Human Rights in the Second Chechen War were killed 45, 000 civilians.
Poles have had bitter experience with Russian occupation, said Professor Ryszard Terlecki, a member of parliament from the Law and Justice party.
And when Poles tried to fight the Russians, the world looked on idly, he said.
“”That’s why Polish people have a special passion about supporting the Chechen people,”” he said.
As for allegations that the Chechen side has also engaged in atrocities, Terlecki said that fighting alone for freedom “”causes desperation. Desperation causes a belief that all possible tools can be used.””