Maskhadov on attracting international mediators to negotiations on Chechnya

The Russian authorities have rejected the proposal of former Chechen leader Aslan Maskhadov to attract international mediators to the negotiations on Chechnya.

The Russian President's aide Sergei Yastrzhembsky stated that "international interference in this case is absolutely unacceptable for Moscow." "The Chechen problem is an internal matter of Russia, and it will be solved, including with the attraction of the Chechen people themselves to the fight against terrorism and separatism," underscored Sergei Yastrzhembsky.

According to him, "the statement of the former president of Ichkeria, Maskhadov, abounds in distortions and inaccuracies." "To begin with, Maskhadov speaks of the necessity to stop military actions which in reality are not going on now. Apart from that, Chechnya is an inalienable part of Russia, and the Chechens are the citizens of Russia. The problems of terrorism, separatism and gangsterism do exist, but they are also gradually being solved. And undoubtedly they will be finally resolved completely," pointed out Sergei Yastrzhembsky.

Maskhadov, according to Yastrzhembsky proposes also to resume contacts between the plenipotentiary representative of the Russian President in the Southern Federal District, Viktor Kazantsev, and Chechen emissary Akhmed Zakayev.

"There is no need to force an open door," said the presidential aide. "Nobody prevents Mr. Zakayev from contacting Mr. Kazantsev on conditions outlined in the well-known statement by the Russian President.": underscored Sergei Yastrzhembsky.

According to him, Maskhadov does not at all conceal that he intentionally addresses Vladimir Putin and the G-8 leaders on the eve of their meeting in Kananaskis and at the time when the PACE session is going on in Strasbourg.

The Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov considers that the negotiations with Maskhadov is possible "but only in the presence of the investigators and the prosecutor." "There is no other variant and it cannot be," emphasised Sergei Ivanov at the news conference on Tuesday. Otherwise, according to him, they would look as if "US President Bush would talk with Mullah Omar about stopping terrorist activity." Sergei Ivanov also pointed out that the documents captured in Maskhadov's headquarters testify to his contacts with international terrorist organisations. The Russian Defence Minister showed the lists of Chechen citizens (altogether 500 persons) whom Maskhadov sentenced to be killed as being loyal to the actions of Russia for establishing peace in Chechnya.

Apart from that, among the captured documents there is a map on which Maskhadov personally marked the routes of the movement of his armed groups and the places of the deployment of the federal forces which have to be destroyed. The capture of the documents and the plans of Maskhadov's crusade on Grozny has prevented another bloodshed, underscored the Defence Minister.

The plenipotentiary representative of the Russian President in the Southern Federal District, Viktor Kazantsev, believes that Maskhadov's statement is a sheer propagandist action meant for "foreign public opinion."

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