Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 3 Issue: 25

On the evening of September 3, the newspaper Izvestia reported, Lord Judd of Britain, co-chair of the Joint Working Group for Chechnya of the State Duma and the Council of Europe, arrived in Moscow. “While still in the airport’s VIP lounge, Lord Judd affirmed that the goal of his visit was to prepare his address for subsequent discussion of the problems of political regulation of the Chechen conflict at the next session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe [which convenes on September 23]. The task of the Russian part of the delegation,” Izvestia noted, “was the opposite: namely, to make the [PACE] session forget about Chechnya” (Izvestia, September 4).

“We are concerned about human rights and the security situation and the well-being of the people,” Judd told reporters before boarding a military helicopter for Grozny. “I want to know if the people who are returning to Chechnya are really doing so voluntarily,” he said. “We have been told that the returnees were enticed by promises of financial assistance but that none were forthcoming.” “Most important,” Judd concluded his remarks, “we want to test out, to investigate if there has been any progress toward a political settlement [to the war]” (Agence France Presse, September 3). Meeting with the pro-Moscow head of administration, Akhmad Kadyrov, in Grozny, Judd pressed the latter on the issue of a negotiated settlement with Aslan Maskhadov. “Talks with Maskhadov are possible only at a prosecutor’s office,” Kadyrov retorted with some heat, but then paused and admitted that he had been trying to maintain a dialogue with Maskhadov’s men. “It transpired that two weeks ago he had a visitor from Maskhadov” (Gazeta.ru, September 5). Commenting on Kadyrov’s revelation, separatist spokesman Akhmed Zakaev dismissed Kadyrov’s words as “explicit disinformation, intended for the PACE delegation” (Chechenpress.com, September 5).