Chechnya and "The Big Goodbye"
The main reason given by Russian authorities for the decision to keep Chechnya as part of Russia by force is that, if Chechnya were to go, then other regions in Russia would want to do the same - a scenario known as "the big goodbye." This fear is completely misplaced.
First of all, the bulk of Russia possesses an ethnic, cultural and religious identity. People in Yakutia, Pskov and Krasnodar all identify themselves as Russians and would not leave Russia even if they had the freedom to do so. They see Russia as their country, and they see each other as brothers. Whereas the Chechnyans are nothing like brothers to Russians. Their ethnicity is Chechen, their religion is Islam, and they have blood hatred for Russians. The Chechens have nothing in common with Russians, and it makes no more sense for them to be part of Russia than it did for Sudan and South Sudan to be one country.
Secondly, if a place is run well, then more people will want to enter it than will want to leave. We are seeing this with Russia and the positive course it's been on for the last 15 years. While Chechens want to leave, South Ossetians and Belorussians want to join; and these have a much greater population and a much greater production capacity. For as long as Russia insists on keeping Chechnya by force, the Georgians have a logical prerogative to do the same to South Ossetia - a region that wants to be part of Russia and would be willing and able to contribute to Russia, instead of, like Chechnya, continuing to cost Russia in money and in lives.
Being one of the more prosperous and stable countries in the region, Russia has much more to gain from people being free to select the country they want to live in than it stands to lose from people having this freedom. South Ossetia and Belarus have much more to offer Russia than does Chechnya, and the more people can choose whether or not they want to be part of Russia the more Russia stands to benefit.
The policies of keeping regions by force are a holdover from Soviet days, and they smack of totalitarianism. While there are many in Russia who prefer moderate authoritarianism such as that of Putin to democracy, even this does not stand to gain from Soviet-era policies. Russia is now an attractive country for a lot of people. And the more places are free to join or leave Russia as they desire, the more Russia stands to gain in population and in production capacity.
A region that hates Russia and costs constantly in lives and money is simply more trouble than it's worth. Not only that, but authoritarian policies on the part of Russia in keeping that region gives moral authority to places like Georgia to do the same thing to regions that want to join Russia. The better things are in Russia, the more places want to join Russia, the stronger and better off Russia becomes.
For as long as Russia remains economically on the mend, more regions will want to join Russia and contribute to it. And that means that "the big goodbye" is not to be feared. Rather much is to be expected, and much is to be gained, from freedom of regions to decide whether to join or to leave the Russian federation.