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CHECHNYA LINKS LIBRARY

February 11th 2002 · PRINTER FRIENDLY FORMAT · E-MAIL THIS

Statement of President Maskhadov

CHECHEN REPUBLIC OF ICHKERIA

OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT

# 10- 718 _________________________________ 11 February 2002

Statement of the President:

The Russian occupation of the Chechen republic is now in its third brutal year. As the civilized world grapples with the menace of international terrorism, the state terror perpetrated by the Kremlin in Chechnya is all but ignored by the same community of nations pledged to defend democracy and human rights in the face of extremist aggression.

The silence over Chechnya is the price of coalition-building: the Western rapprochement with Moscow, vital to allied operations in Central Asia, hinges on the diplomacy of expediency and amnesia, and the daily suffering, hunger, horror, fear, violence and death visited upon the Chechen people can be forgotten so long as Russian President Vladimir Putin endorses the war on terror.

Russia cites the spate of bombings that struck its cities in September of 1999 as the causus belli for its invasion of Chechnya, an effort it now happily cites as another battle in the common global struggle against the terror of radicalized Islam.

Chechens were held responsible and Moscow's tanks and fighter planes were soon wreaking destruction on my nation. Meanwhile, Putin won his presidential bid on a wave of delirious nationalist sentiment that numbed awareness of Russia's chronic socio-economic problems with the intoxication of military adventurism.

Yet Chechen responsibility for the bombings was never proven, a credible investigation and cast iron prosecution of suspects never carried out. Worse, a team of Russian Federal Security agents was later caught planting explosives and detonators in the basement of an apartment building in the City of Ryazan, southeast of Moscow. The official response was that the agents had engaged in a counter-terror readiness exercise. It was a dubious explanation then and it still is now.

Some conscientious Russian parliament members moved for an in-depth probe of the affair, especially concerned over possible security service complicity, but the Duma quashed the inquiry in March of 2000. As the Russian military campaign escalated, a top Russian cabinet member revealed after his resignation that the Russian invasion of Chechnya had been planned many months in advance of the bombings. The attacks on Russia's cities in 1999 remain a mystery, but the inconsistencies of the Kremlin's rationale for its war cited here are not an esoteric hypothesis but documented fact repeatedly published in leading Western newspapers.

An often circulated lie however, sadly gains currency. The criminally irresponsible fallacy circulated by Russian intelligence and parroted by the media that legions of Chechen fighters were present in Afghanistan has at least been proven false. Yet again, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov and Federal Security Service boss Nikolai Patrushev are still touting the myth that Chechens were behind the terror bombings that sparked Moscow's genocidal war. In exile in London, Boris Berezovsky, the Russian kingmaker fallen from grace, promises to reveal the opposite. If Berezovsky, once a privileged member of Putin's inner circle, is brave enough to come forward and genuinely has proof of the Kremlin's skullduggery at the outset of the war, the West would do well to heed any future evidence offered by him.

In any case, once more the Chechen republic unequivocally refutes any moral or material complicity in the 1999 bombings and asks such bodies of the international community as are willing to launch a transparent and non-partisan investigation into their origin without hindrance.

We further ask that those honorable members of the Duma who pursued the case renew their efforts and seek to obtain the evidence that will definitively remove cause for Russia's aggression against my nation, lead to an immediate cessation of hostilities and open the path to a negotiated peace. We also urge in good faith that the United States, the European Union, the OSCE, the UN and INTERPOL aid such an effort by contributing independent observers and investigators. We also ask that the findings of such an inquiry be submitted before an international court of law for final judgement and that all the actors found guilty of their role in this conspiracy be submitted to international justice.

The Chechen Republic is not a rogue dictatorship, a medieval theocracy or a pariah terrorist organization: it is a legally and democratically constituted government, freely elected by its citizens without prejudice or coercion under the protection of international law and abiding by the standards of the OSCE which monitored our landmark elections following our war of independence..

The Chechnya that Putin describes is one we could never recognize. The hateful narrow creed that terrorists bent on destruction claim as their guide, we reject as the apostasy of fanaticism. We are only ourselves and we simply ask that the truth of our tragedy be known and that we be allowed to live in peace and freedom.

Signed:

Aslan Maskhadov

President,

The Chechen Republic of Ichkeria

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