The Chechen crisis has once again turned into a war costing Russia and Chechnya thousands of lives. War itself is terrible enough, but it is even worse when civilians are the chief victims of a war, as in Chechnya today. The war is undermining the foundations of democracy in Russia and strengthening totalitarian tendencies in Russian society. The situation for Chechen society is still more grave and tragic, since the President of the Republic of Chechnya, Aslan Maskhadov, and the governing bodies he created have been unable to prevent the growth of various extremist organizations and an orgy of crime.
The participants in the conference on "The Crisis in Chechnya and Prospects for its Resolution" belong to many different professions and hold various political views. We are united, however, by our firm conviction that the Chechen people, just as the Russian people, have the right to choose for themselves their state system and their government based on democratic principles and respect for human rights. It is immoral and unjust to confront the Chechen nation with the choice war or subordination to Russia.
The conference participants believe that to end the conflict in the
Republic of Chechnya it is necessary that:
1. The parties to the conflict should agree to stop fighting and concentrate on finding a political formula to resolve the Chechen crisis.
2. A political solution of the Chechen crisis must guarantee respect for human rights and fundamental democratic freedom throughout the Republic of Chechnya.
3. The government of the Republic of Chechnya should be elected by all its citizens, including those temporarily residing outside its borders.
4. The newly elected government of the Republic of Chechnya should assume full responsibilty for its recovery and for settling its relations with the Russian Federation.
5. Journalists and international observers should have free access to the whole territory of the Republic of Chechnya.
The participants in the conference call upon democrats in Russia and throughout the world to support this Appeal.