Blasts Administration for Refusal to Meet Him

Contact: Marc Thiessen
Phone: (202) 224-4651
Date: June 8, 2000

WASHINGTON D.C. -- Senator Jesse Helms, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Committee met with Ilyas Akhmadov, the Foreign Minister of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria. After the meeting, Chairman Helms made the following statement:

"I met this morning with Ilyas Akhmadov, to discuss his proposal to bring an immediate cease-fire to the brutal war in Chechnya. Akhmadov, a representative of the democratically elected government of Chechnya, offers a framework for peace that deserves close consideration by Russia and the international community.

"For too long President Clinton and Vice President Gore have failed to use their power and influence to pressure the Kremlin into genuine negotiations to end the tragic conflict in Chechnya.

"Aside from empty and weak rhetoric, the Administration has not lifted a finger to tangibly demonstrate U.S. outrage at the atrocities committed against the Chechen people. Worse, the Administration has even legitimized Russia's military campaign in Chechnya with statements comparing this conflict to the Civil War fought in the United States.

"I am dismayed by the refusal of Secretary of State Albright and other senior U.S. government officials to meet with Mr. Akhmadov. A meeting to discuss a legitimate peace proposal would not constitute a de facto recognition of Chechen independence. But this refusal of a meeting, however, is certainly going to be interpreted by President Putin as yet another green light from the Clinton-Gore Administration to continue his indiscriminate war against the Chechen people -- a war that has brought death, cold, and hunger to countless of innocents."