Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 3 Issue: 31

An account released by a leading Russian human rights organization, Memorial, entitled “Who Broke Off the Negotiations in Chechnya?” noted that the Nezavisimaya Gazeta account and other media reports concerning the October 13 meeting contained serious errors (, October 19). The Memorial author noted that representatives of the OSCE had been physically present during Sultygov’s meeting with the parliamentarians. As for what occurred after the meeting had concluded: “When the participants from the Chechen [separatist] side had begun to make their departure, literally 100 meters away from Sultygov’s office, they were stopped by armed men who had clearly been waiting for them. At first, the soldiers said they were going to take them to the police station; however, in fact those persons they took into custody were brought to the Nadterechny Department of the [pro-Moscow] FSB of Chechnya, where each of them was then individually interrogated by the head of the department, Mairbek Khusuev. In the words of those taken into custody, they were subjected to insulting remarks [by Khusuev], but they declined to provide additional details concerning their conversations at the FSB. Following their interrogation, they were released.”

“One of Sultygov’s deputies,” the Memorial account continued, “Lema Khusuev, who was together with [the parliamentarians] at the moment that they were taken into custody, was also brought to the district department of the FSB. However, despite reports disseminated afterwards, neither he nor [Sultygov] did anything personally to protect the participants in the negotiations from the arbitrariness of the power officials.” “The holding of negotiations in Znamenskoe,” Memorial concluded, “represented a mistake by Sultygov. He underestimated the decisiveness of his opponents, who were not deterred even by the presence of international observers [from the OSCE]. The breaking off of negotiations… is evidently profitable for the adherents of the force variant…. The fact that on October 13 [the deputies] were released does not in the least guarantee their security in the future. They entered into contact with employees of Memorial in order, through them, to provide information to the public concerning what had happened. The participants in the negotiations did not desire even to identify themselves for the press.” The Memorial author hypothesized that what had happened reflected a serious, on-going political struggle between the FSB of Russia, which wants the conflict to continue, and elements in the Russian presidential administration, which want it to end.