20 August 2003, 17:40

Human rights activists are against presidential election in Chechnya

It is not possible to hold free election in Chechnya today, stated Chechen and Russian human rights defenders during their meeting in Nazran on August 18. Members of the Memorial, the Chechen National Rescue Committee, the Council of Non-Government Organizations, the Mothers of Chechnya and other human rights organizations were present at the meeting.

?The elections will not bring peace to this republic if the advocates of independence, including the Chechen resistance movement, are excluded from the political process,? said Aleksandr Cherkasov, a board member of the Memorial. ?The experience in solving other local conflicts has taught us that a cessation of armed resistance must precede any elections and referendums,? he added.

 ?The Kremlin?s desire to appoint a loyal government in Chechnya will make its society more radical and can lead to a civil war,? stated Ruslan Badalov, a chairman of the Chechen National Rescue Committee.

Participants of the meeting prepared a joint statement based on their speeches, calling the Chechen nation, the presidential candidates, and the Russian and international community to define their positions about the October 5 election. The draft statement reads: ?By making us participate, they deprive us of our future. If we don?t allow ourselves to be duped today, it will be a major step forward.?

The members also decided to hold a conference at the beginning of September entitled ?Chechnya on October 5: Do We Have a Choice?? Russian and Chechen public figures, such as Ruslan Khasbulatov and Ella Pamfilova, will be invited.

Author: Timur Aliyev, CK correspondent; Source: Prague Watchdog

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