And that's what it comes down to, now. It's no longer simply a matter of whether Chechnya should be independent. It's about what sort of people should be in charge of nations. We've just fought a war to get rid of a leader who was, I think it's fair to say, a very similar type of person to the Chechen terrorists in Beslan. He had no compunctions about killing innocent people for political purposes, and we've seen the mass graves and heard the eye-witness accounts of the atrocities that resulted from his rule. And I hope that even the idiot sovereignty-fetishists who don't believe we should ever take power away from evil men who control nation-states can at least agree that we shouldn't give evil men power over nation-states in the first place.
Is it possible to give Chechnya independence without handing it over to these bastards? Well, yes: we could kill them all. But, short of that, no: they're far better armed than your average Chechen civilian. Try to create an independent Chechnya with any sort of reasonable, civilised government, and it would be immediately overthrown and replaced by the terrorists.
This, I think, is what needs to be understood by the usual appeasers who think that there is some sort of solution to this problem that involves Russians being nice to Chechens. Yes, there is, but it is not an alternative to violence. Since the character of Chechnya's would-be leaders is what it clearly is, there is no possibility of peace for Chechnya until those would-be leaders have been destroyed. As long as the bastards are still alive, the only choices you can make concern which group of civilians you want them to target.
In short, the only way for Russia to make genuine peace with Chechnya now (and handing the country over to be run by a bunch of murderers is not peace) is to kill every last Chechen terrorist. Best of luck to them.
Matthew Yglesias writes interestingly on these matters:
One assumes that, were Chechnya to gain its independence or autonomy, that the vast majority of Chechens would have no interest in fighting a broader conflict. And yet, the jihadis would still be there, and unless the independent/autonomous Chechen state were to demonstrate both the capacity and determination to root them out, the resulting situation would be very dangerous indeed. During the mid-nineties period of de facto Chechen independence, neither capacity nor determination was demonstrated.