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Remember Chechnya?: Three years ago Russian President Vladimir Putin came to power by launching a war in Chechnya that is still referred to in Russia as an anti-terrorist operation. The war continues, with almost 4,000 Russian soldiers having been killed and more than 13,000 wounded. Why? In Russia, the disjunction between official statistics and real life is as great as that between Putin and democratic freedoms, an issue President Bush should raise in his discussions with Putin this week. This disjunction is evident to all who seek to answer the question: What is the reality in Chechnya today? The answer is that Chechnya is an isolated enclave within Russia, a 21st century ghetto. No one may freely enter or freely leave -- neither men nor women; neither children, nor the old. Military checkpoints are everywhere. In order to pass these checkpoints, civilians must place a "Form #10" (a 10-ruble bribe) in their passports. Without such bribes, soldiers might shoot you in the back or simply detain you, the consequences of which are also usually fatal.

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