Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 3 Issue: 24

On July 30, Aslambek Aslakhanov, the elected Russian State Duma representative from Chechnya, gave a talk at the Carnegie Endowment in Washington. Aslakhanov began his talk by noting that he had had meetings in the capital with U.S. government officials who exhibited “great knowledge of events [in Chechnya] and sincere willingness to understand the situation on the ground.” Somewhat pessimistically, Aslakhanov described as amounting to “good wishes” Putin’s move “to strengthen human rights law and to monitor Russia’s military machine in Chechnya. The challenge, according to Aslakhanov, lies in the cursory briefings Putin receives from generals who have visited Chechnya.” Aslakhanov went on to argue that “scores of people, ranging from senior military officials to politicians to citizens, opposed negotiations with the [separatist] Chechen government. Putin himself doubts that Maskhadov controls Chechen resistance; thus, he has misgivings about the effectiveness of negotiations. However, in mid-July, Putin made a statement indicating the desire to establish dialogue…. Aslakhanov proposed that four to eight ideologically committed supporters of Maskhadov, concerned more about the conditions within Chechnya rather than its legal status, should meet with a similar number of Russian representatives in neutral territory to construct a referendum and move towards socioeconomic reconstruction” (, July 30).