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Chechen Negotiator Calls for Peace Despite Terrorism, Russia Threats

(Washington, DC--July 25, 2003) Lasting peace between Russia and Chechnya is out of reach until Russia stops treating the government of elected Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov as terrorists and agrees to open negotiations with his government, according to Chechen Representative to the Russian Federation Dr. Salambek Maigov. Maigov told a recent RFE/RL briefing audience that the Maskhadov government's primary goal is peace, and that it condemns the violence and terrorism that has been directed at Russia.

Maigov stated that the Maskhadov government respects Russia and its national interests, and is prepared to take into account those interests. He added that negotiations may require a third party to establish a temporary international authority for Chechnya. Maigov said that he believes the future of Chechnya must be decided with the support of the population for any solution to work in the long run. However, negotiations for a peace settlement are not possible without some level of mutual trust between Russia and the Maskhadov government.

Maigov said that violence against civilians in Chechnya has recently escalated. Currently there are 100,000 Russian troops on Chechen territory, fighting 3,000 Chechen rebels under the control of Maskhadov, who controls 90 percent of the Chechen resistance. On March 23, Russia organized a referendum in Chechnya on a Russian-proposed constitution for the Republic. The Maskhadov government does not recognize this referendum as legitimate.

Maigov described two possible outcomes to end the war -- one side destroys the other or both sides commit to negotiations to achieve peace. Because of the current impasse on negotiations, Maigov said that he has been forced to admit that one of these two outcomes is "unattainable." Maigov argued that, although the war is described by many as a war against terrorism, it is really a war to bring Chechnya under Russia's control.

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