HELMS Blasts Sham Elections in Chechnya

Calls elections in war torn region an attempt "to make a brutal charade out of democracy"

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Marc Thiessen
Phone: (202) 224-4651
Date: August 24, 2000

Washington, D.C. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms issued the following statement today:

     "On August 20th, the President Putin attempted to make a brutal charade out of democracy.  He attempted to hold elections in Chechnya.  I urge our government and the international community to treat these elections for what they are: a total sham.

     "There is no way these elections could be free and fair when the electorate, the people of Chechnya, are held virtually under gun point of the Russian military; tens of thousands of Chechen families remain herded into so-called refugee camps; countless Chechens are imprisoned in so-called filtration camps; and, countless others remain hidden in basements and in the mountains, terrified of exposing themselves to the Russian military.

     "Also disturbing is the participation of Russian military personnel in these elections.  A year ago not a single Russian soldier was stationed in Chechnya.  Now the Russian government justifies their votes in this election on the assertion that they are now "permanently deployed" in Chechnya.

     "These elections conjure back the shadow of Stalin's cruel re-population policies of the 1950s.  They warrant the condemnation of the international community and their results should be declared illegitimate.  Elections in Chechnya should only occur in the context of a genuine, just, and enduring peace."