Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 5 Issue: 38

The Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers, which for years has worked to protect Russian draftees from abuses by their own superiors, announced on October 13 that it will try to mediate between the Russian government and Chechnya’s separatists. In a written appeal to the separatists, the organization called on the separatists “to give peace a chance and begin talks on a peaceful settlement of the conflict….We are ready to go anyplace, meet with your authorized persons anywhere, if only to stop the deadly race.”

The statement pledged to try to involve Russian officials as well as the separatists, but the group’s chairwoman Valentina Melnikova told the Associated Press that “our authorities—be it the president or various other politicians—have said time and again that all Chechens are terrorists and that we won’t negotiate with anyone.”

Indeed, Dmitri Kozak, presidential representative for the Southern Federal District, which includes the North Caucasus, confirmed to journalists on October 14 that the federal authorities are unwilling under any circumstances to negotiate with Aslan Maskhadov. Continuing to link Maskhadov to the Beslan atrocity, he said: “We cannot negotiate with masterminds of inhuman atrocities, like what happened in Beslan….It is preposterous to hold talks with those people—if one can refer to them as people after what they did. Any talks would mean only one thing, that the terrorists have achieved their ends.”