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Channel 3 TV, Moscow

Russian liberal politician calls for end to the Chechen war

October 3, 2002

Russian liberal Yabloko party leader Grigoriy Yavlinsky urged President Vladimir Putin to put an end to the war in Chechnya, which he described as pure "bloodshed" and a "political adventure", and launch negotiations with rebel leader Aslan Maskhadov. He also said that Russian army colonel Yury Budanov, accused of murdering a Chechen girl, should be convicted. The following are excerpts from Yavlinskiy's interview to Russian Channel 3 on 3 October:

Presenter: Our commentator Andrey Dobrov will ask [Russian Yabloko party leader] Grigoriy Alekseyevich Yavlinsky some questions about Budanov's case and about Chechnya in general.

Dobrov: Russian market reformer and Union of Right-Wing Forces co-chairman, Anatoli Chubais said in 1999 that Chechnya was a revival of the Russian army. Do you agree with this judgment?

Yavlinsky: In 1999 and subsequenlty I repeated that Chechnya was a tragedy for the Russian army. The army is corrupted there: it has been betrayed and sustains terrible losses. I do not expect the Russian army to survive this blow.

Dobrov: Have you ever been to Chechnya?

Yavlinsky: Yes.

Dobrov: But you didn't fight, did you?

Yavlinsky: I was there during the first war [1994-96]. I went there to evacuate wounded soldiers.

Dobrov: Are there many officers like Colonel Budanov? I mean people whose mentality has been affected under the influence of war.

Yavlinsky: I think there are lots of people like him. I think that such incidents happen there almost every day. I think that both Elsa Kungayeva [the murdered girl] and Budanov are victims of the Chechen war, which is a military and political adventure... However, if Budanov were to be acquitted by court, this would mean that women can be raped and murdered in this country...

Dobrov: People have the impression that you are not a patriot. Even [Russian emigre tycoon and fervent opponent of President Vladimir Putin] Boris Berezovsky has become a Russian patriot, living in London. People believe that Russian soldiers in Chechnya are actually containing a gradual offensive by Chechens against Russia.

Yavlinskiy: I have my own view of patriotism... The people sending the Russian army to wage a guerrilla war, are actually destroying it... A peace conference on Chechnya under the chairmanship of the Russian President should be held in Moscow sooner or later. I hope that this will happen as soon as possible. The conference should involve all political forces participating in the conflict, including [Chechen rebel leader Aslan] Maskhadov, whether we like him or not...

Dobrov: Do you believe that Maskhadov can influence the situation? You suggest that we should talk with a man who is sitting somewhere in the mountains on a green blanket and has no idea about developments ....Do you think that we can reach any agreement with this person?

Yavlinsky: There is no alternative.

Dobrov: There is an alternative. We should kill all the rebel leaders and bring a normal person to power...

Yavlinsky: As far as we can see, nobody is managing to achieve this goal, so we should stop the bloodshed. We should separate terrorists and military criminals from the political leaders of Chechnya, whether we like this fact or not. We don't know how influential Maskhadov is, but it's absolutely clear that he will be a partner at negotiations sooner or later... I believe that the Ppresident [Vladimir Putin] understands this as well.

See also:
War in Chechnya

Channel 3 TV, Moscow, October 3, 2002

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