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N.Gazeta: Interview with "Third Force" A.Shabazov (-JRL)

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  • Norbert Strade
    Johnson s Russia List #5280 2 June 2001 davidjohnson@erols.com Novaya Gazeta No 37 May 31-June 3, 2001 CHECHNYA: THE THIRD FORCE An interview with Akhmad
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 2 12:21 PM
      Johnson's Russia List
      2 June 2001

      Novaya Gazeta
      No 37
      May 31-June 3, 2001


      An interview with Akhmad Shabazov of the Third Force movement
      Author: Nadya Gevorkova


      [from WPS Monitoring Agency, www.wps.ru/e_index.html]

      Akhmad Shabazov represents a conglomerate of organizations united to promote a
      peace settlement in Chechnya. The Third Force movement includes the groups For
      Civil Rights, Chechen Solidarity, and the Club of University Graduates and
      Students; and it offers its own solution to the problem that is Chechnya.
      Question: What does the name Third Force imply?
      Akhmad Shabazov: There is no unequivocal attitude toward war and peace.
      One side is bent on continuing this war to the end, regardless of anything.
      Maskhadov and the parliament of Ichkeria represent the other side. There is
      also Kadyrov, there are others. The Third Force is not a party out to gain
      political mileage. This is a means of consolidating the people and giving them
      a chance to express their will. The future of Chechnya depends on this will.
      Question: What actions are planned, if any?
      Shabazov: The idea is to unite Chechen organizations for the purpose of
      finding a way out of the cul de sac. Everyone is welcome to join us, including
      Khasbulatov's and Aslakhanov's Union of Consent in Chechnya, Maigov's Chechen
      Solidarity, and Visayev's Club of University Graduates and Students. Our
      objectives are an end to the hostilities, and negotiations.
      We propose that the congress should elect a transition government and
      parliament; these two structures would then organize free and fair elections
      in Chechnya.
      We have drawn up a detailed plan and forwarded it to all Russian
      organizations, from constitutional bodies to public groups.
      Question: When do you think this might happen?
      Shabazov: Everything depends on the federal government. It has to admit
      that relations between Russia and Chechnya are not regulated. There are
      legitimate authorities in Chechnya, elected in 1998. Their term in office has
      not expired yet. No solution is possible without their direct involvement and
      participation. The formation of Kadyrov's administration is just an illusion
      of settlement. Anyone who disagrees with a peace settlement should go, whether
      it's Kadyrov or Maskhadov. These people should delegate their powers to the
      transition government, which would then discuss everyone's views with all
      involved parties.
      Question: Who do you think would make the best national leader
      for Chechnya?
      Shabazov: We don't need a national leader. Chechnya has never followed
      one man only. There are various internal parties to a settlement in Chechnya -
      reconciliation conferences and councils of elders. We need a national
      Question: But the federal government will surely want its own
      people in the national government of Chechnya too.
      Shabazov: There will be no problems if these people simply abide by the
      Question: And what status can Chechnya expect in this case?
      Shabazov: The federal government considers that Chechnya already has a
      defined status. Many in Chechnya refuse to accept it. Our opinion is based on
      the status quo. Military methods have failed to solve the problem so far, and
      will never solve it. Neither side will ever win this war. The federal troops
      are gradually beginning to realize and accept it. The Chechens are defending
      their right to live - and are branded as terrorists. The federal government
      blames the Chechens for everything and applies more and more pressure, to
      civilians as well. Chechens are not allowed to live in Chechnya, they are
      harassed in all other Russian regions, and are not permitted to go to Europe
      or America.
      Question: But abductions for ransom, and slavery, are facts - not to be
      denied. The Chechens blame the Federal Security Service for the abductions,
      the federal government blames the Chechens... Do you expect the transition
      government will be able to sort it out?
      Shabazov: Abductions are a corollary of the cul de sac situation. It will
      end as soon as a compromise is proposed. The economy of Chechnya was wrecked
      back in 1994; abductions for ransom and theft of oil have been the only
      sources of income ever since.
      Question: How would you assess the current activities of the federal
      Shabazov: These are attempts to earn something. The federal government
      brought contract servicemen and conscripts here. They deal in people, and
      await the end of their assignments. Or take the search operations... In fact,
      we are dealing with full-scale hostilities - even though the hostilities are
      not recognized as such. We understand all too well that the troops will not be
      withdrawn. It doesn't really matter. What matters is that their presence
      should be regulated by the law.
      Question: Do you have support in the upper echelons of government?
      Shabazov: We propose a dialogue with everyone. So far, Sharayev with his
      Civilian movement, and Unity deputy Borodai have been particularly interested
      and constructive. Moreover, we have met with all human rights activists, from
      Kovalev to Orlov.
      Question: Did you see the instruction issued by Vladimir Rushailo, which
      says Chechens must be kept out of the economy and society?
      Shabazov: Yes, it lists all Chechen companies, banks, and organizations.
      Actually, it is not the first document of this kind.
      Question: And you're still hoping that a congress will take place and a
      government will be elected?
      Shabazov: We aren't just hoping - we are working. When Putin came to
      power in Moscow, we thought a search for a way out of the cul de sac was about
      to begin.
      Question: After his slogan of "killing them in the toilets"?
      Shabazov: There are various ways of boosting one's popularity. We hoped
      that this team wanted to preserve the nation and statehood. The Chechens have
      been pushed to the line beyond which negotiations become impossible. When an
      entire ethnic group is cornered, you can expect it to do something
      unpredictable. Moscow ought to remember this, and shouldn't drive the Chechens
      to this degree of bitterness.
      Question: How would you explain the fact that Muslims around the world -
      and even Muslims in the Caucasus (Dagestan, for example) - have withdrawn
      their support from Chechnya?
      Shabazov: That is not true. It is the upper echelons which don't support
      us. Who is working on post-war restoration in Chechnya? Ordinary people from
      Dagestan. They need the jobs, because of unemployment in Dagestan itself.
      Question: Do you have the support of the Chechen diaspora?
      Shabazov: We have distrust, which we are trying to overcome. It is
      difficult, but we have made some progress already since last May...
      (Translated by A. Ignatkin)
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