Leaders and representatives of Europe,You will soon be debating the issue of Chechnya during your Assembly in Strasbourg on the 24th- 28th September.
You are well aware that the Russian atrocities in Chechnya continue; you know that Elena Bonner, co-founder of the Andrei Sakharov Foundation for Peace & Human Rights, reported to a special commission of the US Congress on June 5th, stating "...the genocide continues."
You are well aware that President Maskhadov has offered to begin peace negotiations without preconditions. His letter was presented by Elena Bonner on June 5th, and prior to that was presented in May to the Joint Working Group mandated by the Council of Europe and the parliamentary Assembly, to monitor the violations of human rights in Chechnya.
You are well aware that the people of Chechnya have no redress whatsoever in respect of the merciless and illegal war waged against the whole civilian population. You certainly recall that in January 1997, presidential & parliamentary elections were held in the Chechen Republic. These were supervised and endorsed by the O.S.C.E.
You recall that President Yeltsin recognized and endorsed the results, notably when he invited President Maskhadov to Moscow in May,where the two presidents signed an agreement on behalf of their people on May 12th, 1997.
However President Putin, having begun a second and even more destructive war against Chechnya, refuses to recognize President Maskhadov and his elected government, and has ignored all their proposals for ceasefire and negotiation. The consequence of this is a disastrous war of genocide. Russia refuses to recognize any authority with which to negotiate, except those Chechens appointed by the Kremlin, many of whom have resigned in protest at the human rights abuses against their people, appointments which have in any case no legality.
It is all the more necessary that you, elected leaders and representatives of Europe, who recognize the necessity of a political solution to this conflict, should unequivocally and publicly reaffirm your recognition of the legitimacy of President Maskhadov, his ministers, and his parliament. We call on you to do this, and to declare your welcome for President Maskhadov's offer.
We call on you to inform President Putin, his Cabinet, and the Chiefs of Staff of the Security and Military forces: that you are bound to recognize the legitimacy of President Maskhadov and his government elected in 1997: that you request the similar acknowledgement of the Russian Federation: and their reply to President Maskhadov's offer.
You will thereby greatly strengthen all the democratic forces in Russia; you will have taken the first step towards a political solution and an end to all acts of terrorism against civilians from all sources.
Vanessa Redgrave and Corin Redgrave
Elena Bonner, Sakharov Foundation
Jeremy Corbyn MP, Co-Chair All Party Parliamentary Human Rights Group UK
Sir Richard Eyre
Bernard Henri Levy
Michael C. Van
Walt Van Praag
Mark Rylance, Artistic Director, The International Shakespeare Globe Theatre
Stanislav Buskevicius, MP Lithuania
Vytautas Landsbergis, MP Lithuania
Algirdas Endriukaitis, Secretary General , International Group of Parliamentarians on the Problem of Chechnya
Yuri Samodurov, Sakharov Foundation, Moscow
Aminat Saiyeva, Representative of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria in Lithuania
Akhyad Idigov, Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Chechen Parliament
We call on all European citizens, whatever your nationality or religion, or political persuasions, to endorse our call with your signatures.Please sign below, with your name in capital letters and fax back. Thank you!