Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 3 Issue: 28

On September 27, the All-Russian Center for the Study of Public Opinion (VTsIOM) reported the results of a new nationwide poll taken during the period September 20-23. Asked the question “Do you consider that it is necessary to continue the military operation in Chechnya or begin peaceful negotiations with the Chechen leadership?” 57 percent selected the response “Enter negotiations,” while 34 percent opted for “Continue the operation.” Nine percent had no opinion. Asked the question “For Russian forces to carry out searches for Chechen fighters on the territory of Georgia would you approve the following…,” 43 percent of respondents said they would approve of a unilateral dispatch of Russian troops to Georgia; 44 percent said they would disapprove and 13 percent had no opinion. By contrast, 72 percent favored imposing economic sanctions on Georgia; only 15 percent disapproved and 13 percent had no opinion. In a similar vein, 74 percent of those contacted approved of hypothetical joint Georgian-Russian military operations on Georgian soil with just 13 percent disapproving; 13 percent had no opinion (Russiavotes.org, September 27).

On September 20, U.S. Newswire reported that eleven congressional members of the United States Helsinki Commission had written to President Putin expressing their “deep concerns over the terrible conflict in Chechnya” and urging that the “Russian Government take all possible actions to alleviate the situation for the many innocent victims of the brutal violence” in the region. Among those signing the letter were the commission’s co-chairs: Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-CO) and Representative Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ), and Ranking Commissioners Senator Christopher J. Dodd (D-CT) and Representative Steny H. Hoyer (D-MD).