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President Maskhadov on the events in Beslan

Publication time: 18 September 2004, 00:50

In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate!

 

I would like to seize the opportunity to answer the questions that Radio Liberty reporter has asked me.

 

«Putin is finishing Russia off»

 

The first question is concerning the recent terrorist acts on the Russian soil, especially concerning the terrorist act involving hostage-taking in the city of Beslan.

 

When answering this question, I would like to say the following, especially about the tragedy in the city of Beslan. Yes it was really a tragedy, it was a blasphemy. Such methods have nothing to do with the fight of the Chechen people and Chechen Mujahideen because there is no justification to that.

 

I and the Mujahideen who took up arms and who are fighting against the federal forces of the invaders – all of us are deeply outraged with this fact. We express our sincere condolences to the relatives and loved ones of the children who died. We also apologize to the Ossetian people no matter who has claimed responsibility or who will claim responsibility for this tragedy, no matter whether there were Chechens there or not.

 

We believe that there is one main reason why such terrorist acts are being perpetrated, involving taking live people hostage: the ongoing war in Chechnya, which has been going on for 13 years already. Without taking responsibility off those who took children in the Beslan school hostage, and without trying to justify myself, I would like to tell the truth – the truth, which even today people are afraid of saying openly.

 

Where are the reasons and the roots of such tragedies? Let me try to list them.

 

The first and, in my opinion, the main reason is Russia's barbaric policies in the Caucasus against all nations of the Caucasus, which is continuing to this day.

 

The second reason is the change of power in Russia and the emergence of a new president of the Russian Federation, who came to power on the blood of his fellow people and on the blood of the Chechen people.

 

The third reason is the ongoing war in Chechnya. The war that has no analogies in its cruelty in the genocide of the Chechen people. Over the past 5 years people of Chechnya including all Chechen children have been held hostage, and they have been experiencing state terror on the part of Russia.

 

The fourth reason is president Putin’s morbid ambitiousness brought to the state of diminished responsibility and criminal insanity. Those who saw Putin’s face even once, when he was asked questions about Chechnya and Chechens, will tell you the same thing. His game with the ratings went as far as making the blood of not only Chechens, but even infants in North Ossetia, depreciate in its value.

 

We have offered and we are now offering president of the Russian Federation to stop this bloody war, and then everything will stop in one day: murders of people, sufferings of people, and terrorist acts. Out of his morbid imagination Putin is always seeing 'international terrorism' brought as far as intervention by all countries against Russia to dismember it, to shatter it and to ruin it. Although, none of us is blind to see that Russia has already been collapsed for quite a while, and Putin is only finishing it off.

 

I am stating with full responsibility that there is no intervention, there is nothing even close to international terrorism. All of this is a fiction and a fabricated image of an enemy: fundamentalism, Islamic extremism… This is probably what the Kremlin is benefiting from.

 

One international expert, from Germany, I think, once said: Chechen Islamists allegedly want to unite Dagestan, Chechnya, North Ossetia and Ingushetia and to build a Caliphate. It is not true. All of these allegations are false. It is a lie. Let me repeat once again: it poses no problems whatsoever to stop this war. I mean, to stop terrorism, to stop the murders, to stop suicide bombers and the radical part of the Chechen Resistance Movement.

 

Jokhar Dudayev [First President of Chechnya] said before the first war started: give me 30 minutes to talk to Yeltsin and there will be no war, we will come to an agreement. He would have been able to get Yeltsin convinced, but they would not let him do that. The war had started and first President of Chechnya was killed. And after the first war these 30 minutes were enough for me to convince president of the Russian Federation Yeltsin and to sign the historical document: the Peace Treaty and Agreement on Mutual Relations between Russia and Chechnya.

 

During my second meeting with Yeltsin in August 1997 30-40 minutes were enough for me to virtually convince the president of the Russian Federation to sign the document on mutual recognition of our states, i.e. a full-scale agreement. But this time they would not let us do that.

 

When this war started we offered then-prime minister of Russia Putin to meet in the office of former president of Ingushetia Ruslan Aushev. And I’m sure that 30 minutes would have been enough for me to convince that man not to unleash a new war, to convince him that it was of no use and that it would turn into disgrace against Russia. And I could have convinced Putin that those who headed for Dagestan were not too happy with it and that no one was trying to acquit them – even those who took up arms and were fighting against Russia. But Putin needed this war, and he’s got this war.

 

And now we repeat once again: 30 minutes are enough for the two presidents to meet and to get this bloodshed to stop, to get this terrible war to stop, to come to an agreement, i.e. to stop terrorism and blood and to stop people from suffering. But so far it is of no use to be talking about it. My arguments, my ambitions, if you like, are consisting of one thing: in guarantees of safety for the Chechen people, and nothing else. On all other subjects I am ready to yield to Russia. But never in my entire life will I recede from the primary argument. Let me repeat once again: there is no international terrorism, there is no influence from the outside, there is no intervention. All of these are fiction. It is a lie and deceit.

 

Chechen Resistance Movement has a radical part consisting of people who believe that fighting against Russia by using normal, i.e. civilized methods makes no sense. Because this is the only army and the only state that does not count the dead bodies of its soldiers and officers, which get shipped from the territory of Chechnya by dozens each day. And they, the radical individuals in the Resistance Movement, are the ones who believe that blasts in the subway, in commuter trains, in airplanes, and seizure of schools is the only way to make Putin stop this slaughter, this war, this bloodshed, and this genocide against the people.

 

The main argument of these people, who seize theaters and schools is that Putin and his generals and secret services will allegedly not issue orders to shoot at little children or gas their fellow citizens with poisonous substances such as sarin or saman. But this is a delusion. These people are wrong because they do not know the true face of their enemy and the state that they are fighting against. And I repeat: I’m not going to justify these people in Beslan; they probably did not think that the school would be stormed and that the Kremlin would issue the order to shoot at the children. And I’m sure that these 'terrorists' were not shooting at the children’s’ backs.

 

One child from that school admitted that there were two blasts on the outside, the wall and then the roof collapsed. The 'terrorists' did not shoot at them, but they changed their clothes and got out of there. I believe that there is one thing that these 'terrorists' and those who take live people hostage are guilty of: by risking the lives of these people they want the Russian government to make certain concessions. I am sure that they will never be able to make Russian government do so. I would like to repeat once again: they do not know the beastly face of their enemy and the leader of Russia.

 

I know President of North Ossetia Dzasokhov personally and I know him very well. He is a respected and honest man and a sober-minded politician. He would have never issued the order to storm the school. Under any circumstances. And I am sure that he never did issue such an order and he did not agree with those who started that assault.

 

On the third of this month, on the day of the assault, my envoy in Great Britain Zakayev had a telephone conversation with Dzasokhov. We were sure that negotiations would start and that we could be the mediators. We know Russia and Russian leadership very well, we are well aware of the methods that Russian secret services use, and we, including myself, were ready to risk our own lives and act as intermediaries to save all of the children. We were sure that we would have been able to do it, even to the detriment of the demands that these 'terrorists' had made.

 

When Anna Politkovskaya was poisoned on a plane, and when Babitsky was arrested in Moscow, it was already clear that they would use force and storm the school in Beslan. And now, President of North Ossetia Dzasokhov should make his presence felt. He must tell the truth and open the eyes of his people, the relatives of the dead: he ought to tell them who began the storm and who is guilty of the murder of hundreds of children. I believe he has enough of courage to display courage and reason.

 

I am also calling on my Ossetian brothers not to fall for any provocations, not to believe in lies and deceptions by Russian secret services and politicians. We have nothing to divide between us, we are brothers. There is direct evidence that a real baiting is going on in South Ossetia: baiting of Ossetians and Georgians. And baiting of Ossetians, Ingushetians and Chechens is going on in the North Caucasus, especially after this tragedy in Beslan. I believe that people of Ossetia, people of Chechnya, people of Ingushetia, and people of Georgia – together we will not let ourselves be deceived and we all will see that Russia is our main enemy.

 

Question number two was about the role of the West and international institutions during emergencies, like the Beslan tragedy.

 

In this connection I would like to say the following: we are deeply outraged with blindness and hypocrisy of some Western leaders, especially the UN leadership. For almost 5 years these leaders have been playing footsie with the Russian leadership.

 

Back in June the UN Commission for Human Rights was considering the issue of violations of human rights in Chechnya. Almost everybody voted against the proposed draft, i.e. in favor of Russia. You had to be a hypocrite to a highest degree and you had to be blind not to see genocide in Chechnya.

 

I think that Putin is a convenient figure for the Western leaders because he can be exposed for committing the war crimes and crimes against humanity in Chechnya any moment. Although, today these leaders are turning a blind eye to it. They are not blind and they saw how this man came to power.

 

They, the Western leaders, know who was issuing the orders to blow up the apartment buildings in Buinaksk, Volgodonsk and Moscow. They know that war crimes in Chechnya are being committed on personal order from president of the Russian Federation. Among these crimes there are murders of prominent politicians and human rights activists in Russia: Yushenkov, Shchekochikhin, Borovik, Lebed, and poisoning of Politkovskaya. They know full well that Russian citizens in the Nord-Ost Theater were gassed by poisonous substances on Putin’s personal order, and today the school in Beslan was stormed on his personal order as well.

 

Therefore, those gentlemen who are kissing and hugging Putin today: Schroeder, Chirac and others, -- these apologies for democrats must also know that they are sharing responsibility for the tragedy in Beslan. They do not care about blood and suffering of Chechens and of Chechen and Ossetian children. There are only interested in energy resources or they have their own regional interests. And nothing else.

 

Center of Information and Analysis under
President of Chechen Republic of Ichkeria


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