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Novaya Gazeta, March 20, 2003

Let Us Join Together to Stop the War in Chechnya

We are now into the fourth year of the second Chechen war, a war where there can be no winner. Neither "state necessity" nor reasoning about the threat of "international terrorism" can justify the death of thousands of Russian soldiers and officers, tens of thousands of civilians, and the destruction of the whole of Chechnya.

Human, material and moral losses are inadmissibly high. Over the past few years unrestricted violence has become a norm in state policy and the Kalashnikov has been transformed into a means of inter-ethnic communication.

The tragedy at Dubrovka [theatre in Moscow] was a response to the violence demonstrated the failure of Russia's imperialist policy in the Caucasus.

It would appear that the leadership of the country is making a false choice, when it rejects any peace initiatives and insist on the war "until the victorious end". However, the memory of the Nord-Ost victims requires a change in the approach to the problem rather than revenge: only a two-sided rejection of military action will make it possible to avoid any more pointless victims. The Russian leadership should take this political step and initiate the process of negotiations. If this does not happen, we will all have to face increasing terror and mutual hatred, endless partisan warfare, new mop-ups and new acts of terror.

Russia and Chechnya are tired of war: they both need peace. Cruelty has no justification, regardless of who initiates it - Russians or Chechens. Bandits from both sides should not be left unpunished.

While fairly condemning the cruelties of the Chechen fighters, the Russian side should refrain from barbaric mop-ups, tortures, executions without trial and all the senseless punitive measures that only enable the separatist groups to win over new recruits.

According to data from opinion polls, most Russian citizens advocate an end to the war and a start to negotiations. The Russian authorities need a will for peace, rather than submission to the inertia of war. The government should take the first steps towards reconciliation. This is what reason, law and simple humanism require. Without humanism state policy loses all justification and sense. The humanist traditions of Russian culture, rather than the resolutions of the Council of Europe, should become the criteria for state policy. Then we would not have to yet again pave our historic path with iron and blood.

We call on our compatriots to do away with passivity and indifference. We represent the state! The country is what we make of it. Every citizen in Russia can influence developments, by openly expressing his/her desire for peace, participating in peaceful anti-war actions, collecting humanitarian aid for refugees, voting for politicians who belong to the "party of peace" and refusing to support the leaders of the "party of war."

Especially we address here our colleagues in the arts and science. We propose that they join this address which is open for signing and take part in new humanitarian initiatives leading to peace, and use all their influence to oppose xenophobia, aggressive nationalism and chauvinism, both in everyday life and in big politics.

A meeting to support this address involving the signatories will take place in Pushkin Square in Moscow on April 12, 2003, at 2p.m.

Yuri Arabov, Yuri Afanasyev, Bella Akhmadulina, Liya Akhedzhakova, Anatoli Akhutin, Leonid Bazhanov, Leonid Batkin, Mikhail Berg, Andrei Bitov, Alla Bossart, Evgeni Bunimovich, Petr Vail, Arkadi Vaksberg, Boris Vasiliyev, Vladimir Vishnevsky, Georgi Vladimiv, Vladimir Voinovich, Sergei Gandlevsky, Alexander Gelman, Illarion Golitsin, Alexander Gorodniskiy, Lidiya Grafova, Lev Gudkov, Vladimir Dashkevich, Veronika Dolina, Denis Dragunskiy, Ion Drutze, Vadim Zhuk, Viktor Erofeev, Mikhail Zlatkovskiy, Leonid Zorin, Igor Irteniyv, Fazil Iskander, Garry Kasparov, Yulii Kim, Galina Kornilova, Alexei Kortnev, Yulii Krelin, Grigory Kruzhkov, Alexander Mirzayan, Daniel Mitlyanskiy, Dmitri Muratov, Yuri Norshtein, Gleb Panfilov, Andrei Piontkovskiy, Anna Politkovskaya, Eugeni Rein, Mark Rozovskiy, Lev Rubinshtein, Olga Sedakova, Viktor Slavkin, Alexander Tkachenko, Pyotr Todorovskiy, Nataliya Trauberg, Ludmila Ulitskaya, Alexander Filippenko,.Georgy Chistyakov, Inna Churikova, Dmitri Shakhovskiy, Viktor Shenderovich, Yuri Schekochikhin, Sergei Yursky, Alexei Yablokov, Igor G.Yakovenko.


See also:

War in Chechnya

Novaya Gazeta, March 20, 2003

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