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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

What Have You Done About Chechnya, Kozyrev?

Following is an open letter from the Moscow Helsinki Group to Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev.

On Jan. 6, you participated in a meeting of the Security Council at which Defense Minister Pavel Grachev declared that President Boris Yeltsin's order to stop bombing Grozny was being strictly carried out. The president repeated these assurances at a meeting with human-rights commissioner Sergei Kovalyov later that day. As is well known, Kovalyov tried to explain to the president that he was being misinformed. It is also well known that there is considerable evidence that proves the Grachev's statement was a lie.

Andrei Vladimirovich, on May 21, 1994, you spoke at a meeting celebrating the birthday of Andrei Sakharov. You then said that you considered Sergei Kovalyov to be your mentor. Allow us now to pose two questions:

What is your personal reaction to the defense minister's disinformation at the Jan. 6 Security Council meeting? And have you, at any Security Council meeting, raised the question of initiating an immediate cease-fire and beginning negotiations in Chechnya, as well as of investigating the "Chechnya affair" here in Moscow?

Activists to Fyodorov


We feel compelled to respond to the charges made against Russia's human rights activists in an article by Duma deputy Boris Fyodorov which appeared in Izvestia on Jan. 10. Fyodorov writes: "Our human-rights specialists are silent unless the matter concerns Chechnya. But we have human-rights violations every day. Must I cite examples?"

We are sure that Fyodorov has read the report of human-rights commissioner Sergei Kovalyov, which was published this summer. What legislative initiatives did he raise in the Duma in response to the frightening reality depicted in that report? Inhuman conditions in detention centers, assaults and murders in the army, etc. Human-rights activists have long been speaking, screaming about all of this. The Committee of Soldiers' Mothers is constantly going from door to door in the government, rarely meeting with any response or support. The systemic illegality and lack of control in Russia's power structures has now turned into a single massive crime, a crime against the people of Chechnya and against Russia's military personnel.

Much of what Fyodorov writes about Chechnya is indubitably true. But it seems to us that his extreme emotionality severely clouds his judgment. As a result, virtually the entire thrust of his indignation is directed against those who are protesting the military action: "betrayal," "many democrats have refused to defend the government," etc.

But there is something that Fyodorov does not understand. Isn't it already perfectly clear that the main "criminal band" is here in Moscow? That it is impossible to undertake an operation to "defend constitutional order" while these people hold important, even vital positions in government? That these people are only interested in scratching this wound until all of Russia is infected?

Fyodorov's political authority would be considerably increased if he would openly acknowledge that certain figures were correct when they said that -- given the political reality of Russia at the end of 1994 -- the violent "restoration of law and order" in Chechnya may well lead to the complete collapse of the constitution and of Russia. It is against this threat, in defense of Russian citizens who are being forced to murder one another, that Sergei Kovalyov and his comrades -- at the risk of their own lives -- are struggling today. It is hard to believe that Boris Fyodorov can't find even a single good word to say about their heroic mission.

Boris Altshuler

Larisa Bogoraz