Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 3 Issue: 33

Writing in the October 28 issue of The Guardian, Lord [Frank] Judd, rapporteur to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on Chechnya and co-chairman of the joint working group of the Council of Europe and Russian State Duma on Chechnya, observed: “The conclusion of the drama in Moscow–not least the horrendous use by Russian forces of poison gas–was horrific. However, nobody with a shred of sensitivity or compassion can fail to condemn the calculated terrorist action by those who seized the theater…. As more is learned about precisely what occurred, there will be lessons for us all…. Since [the year 2000] my concern about the abuse of human rights in the [Chechen] conflict has deepened. On one side, the hundreds of disappearances, the harassment, the torture, the unlawful killings, the brutal mopping-up operations… On the other, the mines, the assassinations, the kidnappings, the ruthlessness, the cultural intolerance and now the attack on a group of innocents… The obvious truth is that there is no military solution [to the conflict]. In the end it has to be political. For that to work, it must involve a sufficiently wide cross-section of Chechen society.”

“It is imperative,” Lord Judd went on, “that those Chechen fighters who are fighting for a reasonable solution make it clear where they stand on the dreadful events in Moscow. Akhmed Zakaev, a deputy to the last elected [Chechen] president, Aslan Maskhadov, told me face to face [on October 24] that: ‘The Chechen leadership, under President Maskhadov, utterly condemns any action targeted against civilians.’ He went on: ‘We do not accept terrorist methods as the way to solve any problems’…. It is vital to make Russia a full partner in the management of global affairs…. Where Russian policy may be playing into the hands of the very extremists we seek to contain throughout the world, it is irresponsible not to make this a key part of our consultations with President Putin and others. Chechnya should be at the top of our agenda.”