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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russians Rally Against the Bloodshed in Chechnya

Following is an open letter to the leaders of Russia's democratic organizations and "to all who are opposed to blood and war" from some of the country's leading human-rights advocates.





Day after day, the fratricidal war in the southern republics of Russia continues. As a result of the incompetence and the irresponsibility of the Russian leadership, thousands of peaceful Russian civilians and hundreds of soldiers have been and continue to be killed in this bloody meat grinder.


We are appealing to your experience in applying democratic pressure on the government, experience you acquired at the end of the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s, and which may now come to nothing.


We are calling on you to forget your differences and to join together against the common threat of war and dictatorship; to coordinate joint actions against violence; and to exert all your efforts to realize joint, mass social actions that can exert effective pressure on the authorities with the object of immediately ending the current military activity.


Yelena Bonner


Sergei Kovalyov


Larisa Bogoraz





Following is an open letter from the human-rights organization Memorial to all Muscovites.





Today, as the war in Chechnya continues, bringing hundreds of new victims each day and bringing shame to our country, honest people do not have the right to be silent.


There is nothing more sacred than human life: We cannot remain on the sidelines. Let us rally around the words of Ghandi: "There are ideas for which one may die, but there are none for which one may kill."


Memorial


Editor:


Say Chechnya is an internal affair. Does this give the government the right to kill indiscriminantly? U.S. planes didn't attempt to target Iraqi apartment blocks, although Desert Storm was an all-out war against a country that had violated another country's territory. After the war, the UN mandated that the allied forces create a no-fly zone to prevent Iraqi attacks on its Kurdish population. Northern Iraq is also an integral part of Iraq, and the Kurdish problem is also an internal matter. This doesn't mean that the decision to enforce a no-fly zone was wrong. It was right; nothing is worth a human life.


But why the double standard on Chechnya? Why don't Western governments and human-rights agencies exert pressure on Russia to stop the killing?


Innocent people around the world are the victims of this kind of double standard. It is time for us to wake up. We can't keep our eyes closed any longer.


Vera Bologova,


Moscow


Editor:


In your Dec. 18, 1994, issue, you repeatedly confuse the term "Russia" with the term "Russian Federation."


Chechnya has been a constituent part of the Russian Federation; it was never part of Russia. Similarly, Scotland is not part of England. However, Scotland and England are both constituent parts of the United Kingdom.


By using the terms "Russia" and "Russian Federation" interchangeably, you automatically place yourselves in the camp of hard-line Russian imperialists. I believe you wanted to be objective.


O.M.P. Bilaniuk


Swarthmore, PA





In response: Article 1 of the Russian Constitution states that the terms "Russia" and "Russian Federation" are synonymous and interchangeable.