Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 2 Issue: 34

Evidence continued to mount concerning the high degree of importance that both Russia and the Chechen separatists ascribe to the views of the leadership of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). Aleksei Vasin, an advisor to the pro-Moscow prime minister of Chechnya, Stanislav Il’yasov, stated his opinion that “the battles in Gudermes on Monday [September 17]… were timed [by the separatists] to coincide with the upcoming session of PACE.” The separatists, he said, had wanted to demonstrate to PACE and to the world the continuing strength of their movement and thus effectively “to push the leadership of Russia into peace negotiations” (Obshchaya Gazeta, no. 38, September 20).

On September 21, Aleksandr Kotenkov, Putin’s official representative to the State Duma, stated that he supported the introduction of emergency rule on the territory of Chechnya. “Now, when a law on emergency rule has been adopted,” he said, “a regime of emergency rule must be introduced in Chechnya” (Interfax, September 21). The previous day, the Union of Right Forces faction in the Duma had attempted to gain passage of an appeal to Putin to introduce emergency rule within Chechnya, but only sixty-eight deputies had voted in favor of the resolution (RIA Novosti, September 20). Gazeta.ru pointed out on September 20 that “the [imposition] of Emergency Rule in Chechnya proposed by the rightists looks especially attractive in light of the upcoming session of PACE in Strasbourg. The status of Emergency Rule, unquestionably, will provide evidence of full legitimacy.”

On September 21, a closed “consultative seminar” on Chechnya, sponsored by PACE, opened in Strasbourg. The seminar was taking place “within the framework of the joint working group of PACE and the State Duma, whose co-chairmen are Dmitry Rogozin and Lord Judd” (Presscenter.ru, September 21). On the previous day, September 20, the official Russian government newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta had published a list of fifteen Russian servicemen–identified only by their initials–who had committed crimes against civilians in Chechnya. This action was presumably taken in part to impress the European deputies of PACE.