The rebel leadership, for its part, unequivocally rejected the amnesty offer. In a statement posted on the separatist Chechenpress.com, Chechenpress and Daymohk websites on July 19, the administration of the president of the ChRI (Chechen Republic of Ichkeria) said, “The Administration of the President of the ChRI officially declares that all statements by Moscow about ‘ending the war,’ about a so-called ‘amnesty’; appeals to the Chechen Armed Forces and the Forces of the Caucasian Mujahideen to ‘lay down arms’ and other propagandistic speculation, are just another hopeless attempt by the Kremlin regime to shroud in lies the real state of affairs both in Ichkeria and in the Caucasus in general.”
The statement concluded, “The ChRI Armed Forces and the Forces of the Caucasus Front are as organized and confident as never before. With a decree by the ChRI President [Dokku Umarov], two new fronts have been created—the Uralsky and Povolzhsky [fronts]. This is the response of the ChRI leadership and the Caucasian mujahideen to the calls to ‘lay down arms’ and [for an] ‘amnesty.’”
In the same statement, the ChRI presidential administration criticized the call for negotiations put forward by ChRI Foreign Minister Akhmed Zakaev in a manifesto entitled “For Peace in Chechnya.” In the manifesto, Zakaev wrote, among other things, that while the rebels “have always considered independence as the fundamental means to achieve peace for the Chechen people and guarantee their security,” if “any other solution for peace with the Russians can be found for achieving the aforementioned goals, we are ready for corresponding negotiations” (Chechnya Weekly, July 14).
Responding to the manifesto, the ChRI presidential administration stated, “In connection with the publication by the ChRI MID [Foreign Ministry] of the Manifesto ‘For Peace in Chechnya,’ which aroused an ambiguous reaction and various speculations, including [speculation] around the [issue of] sovereignty of the ChRI, the Administration of the President of the ChRI reminds you that according to the ChRI Constitution, the sovereignty and independence of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria are indivisible, unshakeable and have nothing to do with the powers of the state organs. Any actions that put the state sovereignty of the ChRI in doubt or any attempts to discuss the sovereignty of the ChRI [constitute] treason. The crudity of several of the manifesto’s formulations engendered various speculations and incorrect interpretations of the official position of the ChRI leadership in questions of war and peace. In this connection, we remind you that the ChRI leadership has clearly defined its position on this issue. The ChRI leadership does not intend to offer peace and negotiations to the aggressor as long as the real conditions for that have not ripened and the opposing side has not proven its readiness for peace.”
The ChRI presidential administration statement also noted that during the big ChRI Majlis Shura held in the summer of 2002, Article One of the ChRI Constitution was amended to read, “The Chechen Republic of Ichkeria is a Sovereign, Independent, Islamic, Constitutional state, created as a result of the self-determination of the Chechen people. The source of all decisions taken is the Koran and Sunna.” The statement concluded, “Consequently, any actions by the ChRI leadership on all issues of war and peace will proceed from Article One of the ChRI Constitution, and will be based on the indicated provisions of the ChRI Basic Law.”