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#9 - JRL 7068
No. 29
February 2003
[translation from RIA Novosti for personal use only]
By Vadim RECHKALOV, Izvestia

On February 17, Chechnya's Press Ministry summed up the results of a large-scale public opinion study that was carried out in the republic in late January - early February. The results indicate that the public sentiments of the breakaway republic are in contradiction with what is generally thought of it. The Chechens do not seem to feel like choosing a president from among the separatists. Yet, the absolute majority of the respondents believe responsibility for the war in Chechnya lies with the federal authorities.

Instructed by the Chechen Press Ministry, social scientists polled 1,000 people over 18 years of age, residents of the quiet plainlands and mountainous areas where the situation remains tense.

When asked who is to blame for the tragic events in Chechnya, a question from the questionnaire, 62.5% of the respondents said the federal centre was; 14.6% of the pollees said wahhabites were to blame; and a mere 9.8% of the respondents pointed to the local separatist forces (Table 1).

Some 23.4% of the respondents said political talks with the fugitive Chechen leader Maskhadov were essential, while 41.5% spoke out against entering into talks with him. Federal forces' lawless actions are the order of the day, according to 61.8% of the pollees. 27.7% of them are more concerned about militants' action. As many as 62.2% of the interviewed Chechens said they did not intend to flee the republic hoping things would change for the better soon. A half of those polled think that peace in Chechnya will be restored no sooner than in 5-10 years.

Some 36.6% of those polled want a representative of the Chechen diaspora in Moscow to be elected president of Chechnya (Table 2). Kadyrov, who was described in the questionnaire in a politically correct way as "a representative of the current official Chechen authorities," enjoys support of 16.5% of the respondents. Ten persons, or 1% of the polled, would have cast their votes for a representative of the separatist forces. The idea to have an ethnic Russian, or "a federal centre representative" as was formulated in the questionnaire, as president appealed to 19.5% of those polled. The results of the public opinion study carried out in Chechnya's plainlands and highlands do not differ much. Highlanders tend to be somewhat more lenient towards separatists. There are more those who support talks with Maskhadov among residents of Chechnya's mountainous areas (by 4%), while Kadyrov has 2% less supporters among them.

Table 1

Who Is to Blame for the Chechnya Tragedy?

Who is to blame %
1. Uncertain 26.7
2. Separatists 9.8
3. Wahhabites 14.6
4. Federal centre 62.5

Survey was sponsored by the Chechen Press Ministry


Table 2

Who Would You Like to See as Chechnya's President?


Representative of the present-day Chechen official authorities

2. Representative of the separatist forces 1



Representative of the Chechen diaspora in Moscow

5. Federal centre representative 19.5

Survey was sponsored by the Chechen Press Ministry

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