Svanidzye: Good evening.
Yavlinsky: Good evening.
Svanidzye: I am holding in my hands your declaration
on Chechnya. It is signed by you and it is authentic.
The following are your six conditions for Alsan Maskhadov.
Frankly speaking I have no questions here. They are correct:
liberation of all hostages; establishment of the grounds
for a civil and law-governed state: the extradition of
terrorists, implementation of a wide range of measures
to disarm armed formations, which are not under the state's
control; elimination of military and repressive bodies;
refusal by Chechnya to admit individuals accused of international
terrorism. I have no questions here so far. Similarly
I have no questions on the final part of your declaration,
where you talk about the seriousness of the present situation
in Chechnya related to winter conditions, etc.
I would like to ask the following questions. You have
written about the introduction of a state of emergency
on the territories of Stavropol Region, Daghestan and
other territories bordering Chechnya, before starting
negotiations with Aslan Maskhadov. This is, incidentally,
a separate issue. There were always claims to Yeltsin
that he wanted to introduce a state of emergency and cancel
the elections. Let it pass. But the second point: stop
mass-scale bombings of the Chechen Republic and suspend
a wide-ranging ground military attack. Then comes the
third item - negotiations. How should we understand this
concept, Grigory Alexeevich? Do you propose first to stop
our troops, stop bombings, call a truce and only then
start negotiations with Maskhadov? Have I understood you
Yavlinsky: The idea of a truce is your invention.
Svanidzye: But this is the word.
Yavlinsky: Your word. In reality the following is meant:
everything that our troops have been doing must continue
and to the same extent. Basically mass-scale bombings,
i.e. when everything is bombed, and a wide-ranging ground
assault in the mountains, is an issue that should be considered
after we have resolved certain political issues. I admit
here that it may happen in this way and that this is all
that is required.
But first we should ask Maskhadov directly and firmly
if he assumes responsibility for further developments.
By the way, recent developments in Chechnya confirmed
the correctness of the position covered in the declaration.
In Moscow the First Deputy of the Head of the General
Headquarters General Manilov, obviously a respected Russian
officer, announced that Maskhadov was the legitimate President
of Chechnya. In Chechnya our troops entered Gudermes,
without firing a single gunshot and without sustaining
a single casualty, on the basis of negotiations with the
same armed people, who had been opposing our troops. This
confirms the correctness of our stance and the need to
immediately start moving in this direction.
Svanidzye: You have said that the truce is my word.
Wait a second. Stopping the bombing and suspending a ground
attack - how can this be called anything other than a
Yavlinsky: Let me state once again. I am speaking about
carpet mass-scale bombings and a wide-ranging military
operation involving the whole front. In this sense I share
the fear of our side over the losses that this may entail.
I admit that things may develop in such a way that this
will become inevitable. But first I would like to declare
the following: military means may bring victory. But they
cannot secure peace. Securing an understanding of the
population of Chechnya is an inherent part of our interests
in achieving victory over the enemy and a total and absolute
victory over the terrorists and bandits.
The people should understand that we are not fighting
them: we are not fighting the people, we are fighting
terrorists and bandits. In this sense our military demonstrated
exceptional political sense when they resolved problems,
as in Gudermes, when they correctly defined the negotiations
issue, in spite of all the claims we have from this man.
In 1996-1999 he demonstrated his total inability to govern
Svanidzye: Are you speaking about Maskhadov?
Yavlinsky: Certainly. But these talks are not with Maskhadov.
These are talks with the population of one of the Russian
Federation's subjects. These talks should last for several
days - not weeks or months, but several days, - openly,
publicly in front of the whole country and the whole world.
Maskhadov should provide us all with answers on all the
questions that you have just formulated here. In addition,
you should bear in mind that Maskhadov controls over a
third of all the terrorists. Only a third, but the best
trained and best armed people. If Maskhadov is asked these
questions by the head of the Government of Russia and
says that he agrees with these tasks, then these people
will at least maintain their neutrality. And the experience
of Gudermes will be expanded.
Svanidzye: Grigory Alexeevich, it is difficult to
argue with what you say. These are general tasks and general
goals, and everyone agrees with them. As always, the devil
is in the detail. And the details are as follows. They
are based on your declaration that you propose, or rather
propose that Vladimir Putin assumes the following position
and tells Maskhadov: "Maskhadov, we will stop the
bombings for a while, as well as the wide-ranging ground
operations. We propose that you do the following".
Then the six aforementioned terms are mentioned: as you
yourself know, he won't be able to implement them. He
won't be able to implement them, even if he wanted to,
and there are doubts about the last point as well. "But
if you can't or don't want to, then we give you after
that - and this is the fourth point of your declaration
- 30 days, so that the refugees can leave the Chechen
This means we must first stop and give them time to
disperse, regroup and prepare. Then we ask him the questions.
He may begin dragging out the business, saying that this
can't be solved immediately - this will give him more
time to disperse, regroup and prepare. And, finally, we
give them another 30 days so that they can fully recover.
Yavlinsky: Again what you've said is harmful and dangerous.
The matter is quite different.
Svanidzye: It is written like this...
Yavlinsky: It is not written like this. The matter is
different. What I propose doesn't involve any change to
the action that our army has done so far - this is my
declaration and I know what I wrote there - we should
continue all these operations. All we need to do is to
make sure that the army implements and continue its operations
while preserving soldiers' lives. And here Maskhadov must
answer the questions that I told you about. I won't repeat
them again. Why Maskhadov? I gave you the most authoritative
Svanidzye: And what do you expect his answer will
Yavlinsky: He can provide different answers. He may say
"no". And then we must declare that we no longer
consider this regime legitimate and that it only rewards
the bandit formations. Then we denounce all the agreements
with Chechnya that were signed up to our President's level.
And then we directly address the people, ignoring Maskhadov.
Our political goals - to attract the population of the
Northern Caucasus to our side - are preserved in this
case. Then we conduct the operation independently.
Svanidzye: After 30 days?
Yavlinsky: The whole operation continues for 30 days.
But during these 30 days the civilians who do not want
to support the bandits and terrorists will leave Chechnya
through a corridor. That is what the declaration says.
But I would like to tell you the following: over the past
few weeks we have witnessed a development which is in
my opinion inadmissible for our politics. My opponents
Yuri Luzhkov and Evgeni Primakov were accused of co-operating
with the West, in a bid to weaken Russia. I think that
this political show targeted at them and - while I disagree
with them on many points and am their rival - accusations
to the effect that they are colluding with the West and
want to weaken Russia are, I believe, very poor politics.
This resembles a "witch-hunt". It is absolutely
inappropriate at present.
Svanidzye: As far as I can understand, this is your
position. But we have been discussing another topic. You
called your declaration an ultimatum for Maskhadov.
Yavlinsky: Yes, that is true.
Svanidzye: Excuse me, but surely you realise that
an ultimatum looks as follows: when you hold someone by
the neck, squeeze it and then add: "Now, friend,
you will do this and that thing or, sorry, goodbye".
You propose to take your hands off this throat, step a
few steps back and say: "We are giving you time,
30 days, even more, as I will first of all dictate the
terms to you and you must reflect and these 30 days will
begin, only if you refuse. And if you refuse, then I shall
grab you by the throat again."
Yavlinsky: Nikolai Karlovich, what you've just described
is not an ultimatum and is totally unrelated to politics.
What you've just said is simply bandit talk between two
bandits in a doorway.
Svanidzye: But it is war.
Yavlinsky: In a dark doorway. Your statement represents
merely talk between bandits.
Svanidzye: But war always means violence.
Yavlinsky: I propose the terms that the Prime Minister
is entitled to discuss in a private conversation with
Maskhadov, although I would prefer to broadcast it all
over the country within a day, wording the conditions
as an ultimatum or whatever. I am not the Russian Prime
Minister. I don't set forth any ultimatum. I set forth
a plan that will enable us to rally the population of
the Northern Caucasus to our side, in order to obtain
a final victory over the enemy. This is what I propose.
Svanidzye: What is your attitude to Vladimir Putin's
actions in the Northern Caucasus to date?
Yavlinsky: Putin has for the first time in five years
placed the troops in such a position that today we can
- if we act without making mistakes - resolve this task
correctly, settle the Chechenian conflict and guarantee
security to Russian citizens both in Chechnya, on the
Chechenian borders and in Russia in general. It is important
not to make mistakes now. That is why I have made my declaration