WASHINGTON — “The charge that Russian forces have allegedly bombed known Russian nuclear waste sites in Chechnya—one in Grozny and four others outside the city—by Seilam Bechaev and Tourpal-Ali Kaimov of the Chechen Parliament has greatly increased my concern and anxiety over developments in the region,” said Commission Chairman Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ) at a Commission briefing today.
Mr. Seilam Bechaev, Vice President of the Chechen Parliament and Mr. Tourpal-Ali Kaimov, Chairman of the Budget Committee of the Chechen Parliament, were providing a comprehensive overview of the current situation in Chechnya to the Commission.
“As we meet here today, a devastating war is taking place in Chechnya,” said Smith. “What the Russian Government describes as an ‘anti-terrorist operation,’ has degenerated—if it wasn’t already planned—into a war of destruction against the people of Chechnya. In response to concern from the international community, the Russian government and military simply claim that the conflict is an ‘internal matter’ despite a 1991 OSCE commitment that human rights issues ‘are of direct and legitimate concern to all participating States’ and are not exclusively any country’s ‘internal affair.’ Nothing justifies the shelling of peaceful villages, strafing of buses and killing refugees fleeing from the fighting, setting up ‘filtration camps’ for males between the ages of 10 and 60 under ‘suspicion’ of being guerrillas, and the entire litany of brutal acts by the Russian military that bears no relation to combating terrorism.”
Also participating in the briefing was Commissioner Rep. Joseph R. Pitts (R-PA).
In a written statement submitted to the briefing, House International Relations Committee Chairman Rep. Benjamin A. Gilman (R-NY suggested that “it may be appropriate at this time for the United States to bring a resolution before the United Nations Security Council regarding this brutal operation.”
Bechaev and Kaimov claimed that Arab “emissaries” had conspired with Russia’s Special Services to promote this latest conflict, in which there are over 200,000 refugees and 10,000 dead.
After Mr. Smith pointed out the near-unanimous passage of House Resolution 206 condemning the Russian acts in Chechnya (which Smith acknowledged were “mere words”), he asked what steps the U.S. should take to end this conflict.
Bechaev responded that:
– The World Bank should refuse and withhold funds for Russia;
– An international committee should be arranged with the authority to investigate and negotiate an end to the conflict. (At the November 1999 OSCE Summit, the OSCE participating States, including the Russian Federation, reaffirmed the existing mandate of the OSCE Assistance Group in Chechnya and stated that the assistance of the OSCE would contribute to achieving a political solution to the crisis.);
– Sanctions should be placed upon the Russian Federation;
– Chechen and Russian representatives should meet with a U.S. mediator;
– Humanitarian aid and NGO access to the Chechens should be allowed; and,
– The U.S. should provide support to build an independent democratic government in Chechnya.