Dispatches from Chechnya No. 7 - Chechens Believe Maskhadov Government Should Represent Chechnya in Negotiations with Russians

Dispatches from Chechnya No. 7, January 19, 2001

Chechens Support Secular Government; Believe Maskhadov Government Should Represent Chechnya in Negotiations with Russians

GROZNY, January 19, 2001 Between December 2000 and January 2001, the LAM Center polled 1,500 Chechens on their views of the conflict between Russia and Chechnya. The survey was conducted in the regions of Grozny, Znamenskoye, Shali, Urus-Martan, Alkhan-Yurt and Komsomolskoye, and was given to both residents and those living in refugee camps.

Of those surveyed, nearly 100 percent responded “yes” to the question, “Do you think that the military conflict between Russia and Chechnya can be resolved peacefully?” Nearly 80 percent said that President Aslan Maskhadov should represent Chechnya in its negotiations with Russia.

Three quarters of the respondents supported a compromise with the Russian Federation. Of those willing to compromise, 80 percent suggested that Chechnya could become a subject of the Federation while retaining some sort of special status, 10 percent (primarily residents of Znamenskoye) suggested that Chechnya become one of Russia’s republics, and 10 percent suggested that Chechnya form a confederation with Russia. The remaining quarter of respondents see Chechnya as an independent state. This view is held primarily by residents of the regions which have suffered the most damage from the war Alkhan-Yurt and Komsomolskoye, as well as Starie Atagi. However, most of those favoring independence want to achieve it through peaceful means.

Some 75 percent of the respondents support the proposal that a referendum be held to determine what the status of the republic should be. Those supporting independence, however, are generally not in favor of a referendum.

Almost 90 percent of all respondents, independent of profession, age or education, think that the government of Chechnya should be secular. Only 5 percent (primarily residents of Alkhan-Yurt and Komsomolskoye) are in favor of an Islamic state. The vast majority of respondents (almost 90 percent) think that free and fair elections could be held as soon as the military conflict ceases.

When asked who they would like to see as the political leader of Chechnya, 20 percent of those surveyed said they would not vote for any of the well-known Chechen politicians, and 15 percent of these would like to see the emergence of a new leader who supports a rebirth of Chechnya and has not played a major role in the past 10 years of Chechen politics. Of the 80 percent who said they supported a specific political leader, 31.2 percent would vote for Ruslan Khasbulatov, 23.9 percent support Aslanbek Aslakhanov, 20.4 percent would re-elect Aslan Maskhadov, 18 percent would vote for Malik Saidullayev, 3.9 percent for Doku Zavgayev and 2.4 for Sulambek Khadjiyev. Supporters of Ruslan Khasbulatov are spread throughout Chechnya and represent all age groups, professions and levels of education. Support for Aslanbek Aslakhanov comes mostly from students and intelligentsia living in Grozny. Most of Aslan Maskhadov’s supporters live in Alkhan-Yurt, Komsomolskoye, and Grozny. Malik Saidullayev has provided humanitarian assistance to refugee camps and therefore finds most of his support among refugees.

Almost 70 percent of those surveyed think that the presence of Russian military forces in Chechnya will not facilitate peace and stability. Another 20 percent thought the presence of such forces would be necessary, and 10 percent were unsure. Almost 60 percent support the idea of bringing an international peacekeeping force into Chechnya.

Although this survey was conducted selectively and did not include all areas of Chechnya, it can be considered an accurate expression of the will of the Chechen people, and from its results one can make a number of generalizations.

The majority of Chechens are in favor of ending the war as soon as possible, of working towards a compromise with Russia, and of negotiating with Russia through Aslan Maskhadov. Chechens are ready to hold new elections and are in favor of a leader who will build a democratic, secular Chechen government and work towards a compromise with Russia on the status of the Chechen Republic.

Because the Russian army will be incapable of maintaining order in Chechnya, and because of the great extent to which civilians suffered at the hands of this army, the majority of Chechens do not support the idea of Russian military presence, even as peacekeepers, in Chechnya.

In light of the possibility of military despotism and oppression, either by the Russian army or by various bands of extremists, the citizens of Chechnya are ready to support the presence of international peacekeeping forces.


Name (optional), year of birth, profession

Place of residence
1. Do you think that the military conflict between Russia and Chechnya can be resolved peacefully?

2. In your opinion, who should represent Chechnya in negotiations with Russia?

3. Do you think that a compromise on the status of the Chechen Republic would be possible?

4. What do you consider the most acceptable type of relationship between Russia and the Chechen Republic (federal, special status, confederative, or independent)?

5. What kind of government should Chechnya have (secular or Islamic)?

6. Do you consider a referendum on the status of Chechnya necessary?

7. Do you believe that free, democratic elections could be held in Chechnya as soon as the military conflict ends?

8. Which of the well-known Chechen politicians would you be likely to vote for as head of the Chechen government?

9. Do you think that the presence of Russian troops in Chechnya will facilitate stability and the return of peace and order?

10. Do you think that the presence of international peacekeeping forces will be necessary in Chechnya?

Date ________________ 200__


Information about LAM:

LAM (mountain in Chechen), is a Chechen NGO currently working to assist refugees and displaced persons, bring an end to the war, help reconstruct Chechnya, and document war crimes.

Before the current war, Lam focused on preserving Chechnya's intellectual and cultural heritage. It produced and distributed recordings of musical, theatrical, and dance programs, published books on cultural topics, and organized regular meetings of intellectuals on cultural, legal and human rights topics.

Since the outbreak of the war, Lam has focused on providing humanitarian assistance to refugees, providing information to international relief organizations on how best to deliver humitarian aid, trying to bring an end to the war, and disseminating information about the crisis and about war crimes.

In its information dissemination efforts, Lam works closely with the Andrei Sakarov Museum in Moscow, IDEE-Warsaw, and IDEE. In the spring of 2000 Lam became the Chechen Center for Pluralism, the 17th member of IDEE's transregional network of NGOs dedicated to promoting democratic ideas and principles.

In June 2000, with support from IDEE, Lam held a conference in Nazran, Ingushetia on The Crisis in Chechnya and Prospects for its Resolution. The conference attracted approximately 100 participants from Grozny, Argun, Shali, and other towns and villages in Chechnya, and included teachers, lawyers, doctors, and artists, as well as representatives of social and political movements. At the conclusion of the conference, the participants issued a statement on the situation in Chechnya.

Lam may be contacted through:

The Andrei Sakharov Museum,
Zemlianoy val, 57, bld.6
107120 Moscow, RUSSIA
Tel: (7095) 923 4401
Fax: (7095) 917 2653


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