Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 4 Issue: 21

The Russian parliament gave final approval on June 6 to the Putin administration’s amnesty decree, the formal text of which can be found on the website of Rossiskaya gazeta (the June 7 issue). Only 25 deputies voted against the proposal, while 352 voted in favor. The only two parties in the Duma that formally opposed it were the pro-reform Yabloko party and the ultra-nationalist Liberal Democratic Party. The latter party’s leader, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, said that rebel guerrillas would only pretend to surrender: “We will give them money and they will just buy more weapons and kill our soldiers.”

Grigory Yavlinsky, head of Yabloko, proposed during a June 8 interview on the TVS television network that President Putin host an international conference in Moscow to negotiate a peaceful settlement in Chechnya, with the participation of the Council of Europe and other international bodies. “We propose that all the opposing sides should take part in this peace conference,” he said, “even those with the tiniest noticeable following in Chechnya–everyone except criminals.” He suggested that an international commission could decide in advance who is and who is not a war criminal.

A poll of Russians by the “Obshchestvennoe mnenie” (“Public Opinion”) foundation at the end of May found that 25 percent of those surveyed expected negative results from the amnesty and only 15 percent positive results; 38 percent expected that nothing would change.