Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 2 Issue: 14

On March 23, Il’yas Akhmadov, the separatist foreign minister of Chechnya, spoke at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. He noted that he had been in the U.S. capital for two weeks, during which time he had had discussions with Senators Paul Wellstone and Sam Brownback. He continued, “I have [also] had constructive discussions with Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, Richard Perle, Frank Carlucci, Lee Hamilton, Paula Dobriansky and James Woolsey.” On March 21, he added, former Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbot and Ambassador Steve Sestanovich had joined him during a meeting with Ken Bacon. “This meeting,” he said, “though a little late, was substantive.”

Akhmadov went on to announce that he would shortly be meeting with the Acting Special Advisor to the Secretary of State for Russia and the New Independent States, John Beyrle. He said that he hoped to present Beyrle with “a list of sixteen different realistic and achievable recommendations for action to help alleviate the disastrous humanitarian situation of the Chechen people.” Akhmadov noted that “a very influential former American policymaker” had advised him to request that the U.S. government photograph mass graves and concentration camps in Chechnya using satellite imagery, as it had previously done in the cases of Bosnia and Kosovo (The American Committee for Peace in Chechnya, March 26).

On March 27, Richard Boucher, spokesman for the U.S. Department of State, commented on the meeting of Akhmadov and Beyrle which took place the previous day, outside the grounds of the department, and lasted for about forty-five minutes. “They discussed the conflict in Chechnya,” Boucher reported, “They discussed the prospects for a settlement there. Mr. Beyrle told Mr. Akhmadov that the Chechen side must condemn terrorism, must account for its alleged participation in terrorist acts and must take decisive action to prevent such acts in the future. Mr. Beyrle also stressed the need for dialogue to resolve the conflict” (Daily Briefing, U.S. State Department, March 27).

The same day, during a visit to Minsk, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kas’yanov underscored that Russia relates negatively to the fact of the reception of Akhmadov by a representative of the U.S. State Department, but said that Russia did not intend to take any retaliatory measures. Russian presidential spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky dismissed the meeting with Akhmadov as “nothing more than a negative political gesture by the American administration toward Russia” (, March 27).