Dispatches from Chechnya No. 7 

Chechens Support Secular Government;
Believe Maskhadov Government Should Represent Chechnya
in Negotiations with Russians

GROZNY, January 19, 2001 – Between December 2000 and January 2001, the LAM Center polled 1,500 Chechens on their views of the conflict between Russia and Chechnya. The survey was conducted in the regions of Grozny, Znamenskoye, Shali, Urus-Martan, Alkhan-Yurt and Komsomolskoye, and was given to both residents and those living in refugee camps.

Of those surveyed, nearly 100 percent responded “yes” to the question, “Do you think that the military conflict between Russia and Chechnya can be resolved peacefully?” Nearly 80 percent said that President Aslan Maskhadov should represent Chechnya in its negotiations with Russia.

Three quarters of the respondents supported a compromise with the Russian Federation.  Of those willing to compromise, 80 percent suggested that Chechnya could become a subject of the Federation while retaining some sort of special status, 10 percent (primarily residents of Znamenskoye) suggested that Chechnya become one of Russia’s republics, and 10 percent suggested that Chechnya form a confederation with Russia. The remaining quarter of respondents see Chechnya as an independent state.  This view is held primarily by residents of the regions which have suffered the most damage from the war – Alkhan-Yurt and Komsomolskoye, as well as Starie Atagi. However, most of those favoring independence want to achieve it through peaceful means.

Some 75 percent of the respondents support the proposal that a referendum be held to determine what the status of the republic should be. Those supporting independence, however, are generally not in favor of a referendum.

Almost 90 percent of all respondents, independent of profession, age or education, think that the government of Chechnya should be secular. Only 5 percent (primarily residents of Alkhan-Yurt and Komsomolskoye) are in favor of an Islamic state.

The vast majority of respondents (almost 90 percent) think that free and fair elections could be held as soon as the military conflict ceases.

When asked who they would like to see as the political leader of Chechnya, 20 percent of those surveyed said they would not vote for any of the well-known Chechen politicians, and 15 percent of these would like to see the emergence of a new leader who supports a rebirth of Chechnya and has not played a major role in the past 10 years of Chechen politics. Of the 80 percent who said they supported a specific political leader, 31.2 percent would vote for Ruslan Khasbulatov, 23.9 percent support Aslanbek Aslakhanov, 20.4 percent would re-elect Aslan Maskhadov, 18 percent would vote for Malik Saidullayev, 3.9 percent for Doku Zavgayev and 2.4 for Sulambek Khadjiyev.  Supporters of Ruslan Khasbulatov are spread throughout Chechnya and represent all age groups, professions and levels of education.  Support for Aslanbek Aslakhanov comes mostly from students and intelligentsia living in Grozny. Most of Aslan Maskhadov’s supporters live in Alkhan-Yurt, Komsomolskoye, and Grozny.  Malik Saidullayev has provided humanitarian assistance to refugee camps and therefore finds most of his support among refugees.

Almost 70 percent of those surveyed think that the presence of Russian military forces in Chechnya will not facilitate peace and stability.  Another 20 percent thought the presence of such forces would be necessary, and 10 percent were unsure.

Almost 60 percent support the idea of bringing an international peacekeeping force into Chechnya.

Although this survey was conducted selectively and did not include all areas of Chechnya, it can be considered an accurate expression of the will of the Chechen people, and from its results one can make a number of generalizations.

The majority of Chechens are in favor of ending the war as soon as possible, of working towards a compromise with Russia, and of negotiating with Russia through Aslan Maskhadov.  Chechens are ready to hold new elections and are in favor of a leader who will build a democratic, secular Chechen government and work towards a compromise with Russia on the status of the Chechen Republic.

Because the Russian army will be incapable of maintaining order in Chechnya, and because of the great extent to which civilians suffered at the hands of this army, the majority of Chechens do not support the idea of Russian military presence, even as peacekeepers, in Chechnya.

In light of the possibility of military despotism and oppression, either by the Russian army or by various bands of extremists, the citizens of Chechnya are ready to support the presence of international peacekeeping forces.


Name (optional), year of birth, profession ___________________________________________

Place of residence _______________ _____________________________________________

1.  Do you think that the military conflict between Russia and Chechnya can be resolved peacefully?       __             __________________________________________________________________

2.  In your opinion, who should represent Chechnya in negotiations with Russia?

3.  Do you think that a compromise on the status of the Chechen Republic would be possible?

4.  What do you consider the most acceptable type of relationship between Russia and the Chechen Republic (federal, special status, confederative, or independent)? _________________________________

5.  What kind of government should Chechnya have (secular or Islamic)? ____________________

6.  Do you consider a referendum on the status of Chechnya necessary? ____________________

7.  Do you believe that free, democratic elections could be held in Chechnya as soon as the military conflict ends? ______________________________________________________________________

8.  Which of the well-known Chechen politicians would you be likely to vote for as head of the Chechen government? _________________________________________________________________

9.  Do you think that the presence of Russian troops in Chechnya will facilitate stability and the return of peace and order? __________________________________________________________________

10.  Do you think that the presence of international peacekeeping forces will be necessary in Chechnya?  ___________________________________________________________________________

Date ________________ 200_____