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Rebel president ready for talks with Russia - Chechen web site
Source: Chechenpress web site, Tbilisi, in Russian 31 Mar 03

Appeal by the president of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, Aslan Maskhadov, to figures of culture and science of the Russian Federation to find a peaceful resolution to the Russian-Chechen war.

Dear ladies and gentlemen!

It happens that like thousands of other Chechens I speak, read and write in Russian. Such concepts as the Russian culture, art, literature and music are not just empty sounds for me. Unfortunately, the word "Russian" has a negative connotation for many in Chechnya.

It has become customary for Russian society to describe Chechens as a rather different ethnic group. Everyone seems to talk or write about "Chechen banditry and Chechen bandits", etc. Under the circumstances it becomes easier for those, who are involved in the Chechen war, to kill Chechens. They are killing grown ups just because they are grown ups, and children because they will grow up and become different. Everything sounds logical. But this is a logic of racism, chauvinism and fascism.

When we speak about the genocide of the Chechen people, they tell us: wait a minute! Many Chechens are alive, not all of them are dead. According to their logic, Jews were not subjected to genocide in 1930-40s. But the Jews have not just survived, they also created an independent state two years after the war.

The Chechens are ordinary people, who have been living in unusual circumstances for quite sometime now. Russia describes thousands of Chechens, who are defending their motherland with arms in hand from their imperialist ambitions, as bandits. In fact, they are our pride and joy, our national heroes. They are fighting for their land, defending honour and freedom of their motherland unlike your servicemen, who have invaded the Chechen Republic. They are killing people, marauding and taking part in punitive operations.

Dear ladies and gentlemen!

Unfortunately Chechnya's independence closely depends on the developments in Russia. Your letter pleasantly surprised me. We see Russia's shifting loyalties as a reliable guarantee of our joint struggle.

War always comes to an end and the Russian-Chechen war is no exception. However, each year of meaningless fighting drives a wedge between our cultures and peoples, who are doomed to live together.

In addition, I cannot share the opinion of those who only believe in a one-sided resolution of the Russian-Chechen war. Interests of both sides should be taken into account. Perhaps, you do not have any illusions regarding the pompously organized farce of the so-called referendum in Chechnya. I can see that your letter contains real proposals aimed at abandoning the vicious circle of violence. There is no need to urge the Chechen leadership to sit at the negotiating table. We are ready for these negotiations, without any preconditions. We feel responsibility for the future of our people.

With deep respect,

President of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria Aslan Maskhadov

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