Washington, 18 January 2000 (RFE/RL) - A Chechen independence advocate says he believes the international community is becoming skeptical of Russian objectives in Moscow's military campaign against Chechen separatists. Russia views the Chechen fighters as terrorists. However, Ilyas Akhmadov -- Chechnya's self-proclaimed foreign minister -- says the international community is increasingly concerned that Russian tactics are aimed at wiping out civilians as much as armed rebels.
Akhmadov spoke at a Washington briefing today that was sponsored by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. He has spoken to a number of Washington organizations over the past two weeks in an effort to present what he says is the truth about the situation in Chechnya.
He had sought a meeting with a senior U.S. State Department official. The U.S. however, reiterated that it does not recognize a Chechen government. It sent a staff member from its Russian Desk to meet Akhmadov at a Washington hotel last week, and officials made clear that the U.S. viewed Akhmadov as a Russian citizen, not a diplomat.
Akhmadov said today he understood the U.S. approach because of what he jokingly referred to as Chechnya's scandalous and difficult status.