Democrats argue that Chechen referendum is premature

Echoing an article published last month by Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii, Yabloko, the Union of Rightist Forces, the Social Democratic Party of Russia, and the human rights organization Memorial issued a statement on 17 March arguing that while a referendum on a new Chechen constitution must be held at some point, it is premature to do so while hostilities continue, Interfax reported (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," 14 February 2003). They propose a two-stage approach to resolving the Chechen conflict, in which a formal cease-fire and an end to guerrilla activities and "sweep" operations would precede a peace conference at which all factions would be represented. LF


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