We are no fans of President Putin – far from it – nor apologists for his handling of the Chechnya issue. But…
There are no ’moderate’ leaders seeking Chechen independence.
If there were, then following the recent mass murder of Russian children and others, to which a Chechen terrorist leader has confessed, the moderate leaders would have done much more than issue meaningless condemnations which do nothing but insult the dead and the bereaved. They would have declared:
That they are diverting all their resources to the capture and/or punishment of those who sent the perpetrators;
That they will not rest until all terrorist organisations based in Chechnya are eradicated;
That they offer to cooperate with the Russian authorities in every possible way to achieve that;
And that their claim for independence has been put on hold until that is achieved.
Since none of them have done this, we have to conclude that the cause of Chechen independence is not legitimate.