#17 - JRL 7254
Former Chechen envoy says republic's destiny should be decided by experts
Source: Ekho Moskvy news agency, Moscow, in Russian 1107 gmt 17 Jul 20
"Russian President [Vladimir Putin] will soon come round to setting up an expert group on Chechnya," Shamil Beno, the head of the expert council of the Support for Democracy and Social Progress foundation and the former foreign minister of Chechnya has told Ekho Moskvy radio.
He said that "Currently the president's decisions on Chechnya are being prepared by former Komsomol clerks who are now working as top ranking state advisers but they are not able to draw up a decision as they are not experts".
Beno has said that the council of experts should consist of those who get 50 per cent of votes at the local government election in Chechnya, 20-30 experts and Russian-speakers who have left the republic.
"Let these experts work on just the one task for a whole year but work out some five or six pages of constitutional principles which suit both shepherds and professors," Beno stressed.
According to him "after this, the document should be discussed at a referendum, then an election should be held and this constitutional discussion should be passed on to the new leadership".
Beno thinks that this "would be proper as it would be the decision of the people but not of [Chechnya's head] Akhmad Kadyrov or Putin".
"A referendum was needed, it was vital, but the authorities chose the easy way to hold it, "Beno said.
"If the team is not made up of the best managers on social issues, the results of the referendum will come to naught because of recent terrorist attacks. Only these managers can arrange things so that society lives according to the constitution," Beno concluded.
[In a report at 1115 gmt Ekho Moskvy news agency quoted Beno as saying that the Support for Democracy and Social Progress foundation will propose its own candidate for Chechnya's presidential election. He promised to give Ekho Moskvy radio the name of this candidate on 22 or 23 July.]