Former Ingush President proposes alternative approach to Chechen referendum

In an interview published on 23 February in "Novoe vremya," Ruslan Aushev, who currently chairs the CIS Heads of State Council's interstate committee for the affairs of veterans of international wars, criticized as counterproductive the planned 23 March referendum on a new Chechen constitution. He proposed that instead residents of Chechnya be asked to choose in a referendum among three alternatives: independence, broad autonomy for Chechnya, or the status of a subject of the Russian Federation. President Maskhadov and pro-Moscow Chechen leader Akhmed-hadji Kadyrov should retreat into the background, a ceasefire should be concluded, and during the five months that Aushev estimated would be needed to prepare the referendum, supporters of each of those three options would have access to the media to promote their views under the supervision of international monitors. Aushev commented that the most advantageous choice would be broad autonomy, as the status of federation subject entails far greater dependence on Moscow in economic issues. LF

Interfax on 21 February quoted presidential envoy for human rights in Chechnya Abdul-Khakim Sultygov as saying that Chechen field commanders and even President Aslan Maskhadov could participate under certain conditions in talks aimed at reaching a political solution to the war in Chechnya. Sultygov explained that in each individual case, a court would first be required to rule whether the commander in question is eligible to participate in such talks. Last month Sultygov launched a new treaty on civic accord whose signatories abjure violence and seek to resolve the Chechen conflict by peaceful means (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 January 2003). LF


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