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Chechnya: U.S. Committee Seeks Negotiations To End War

Washington, 2 March 2000 (RFE/RL) -- A group of prominent Americans has established a private committee aimed at helping to bring the war against Chechnya to a negotiated end.

The organization is called the American Committee for Chechnya. Its founders include former U.S. Secretary of State Alexander Haig and former White House National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski.

The committee said in a statement that the war is a catastrophe for Russia as well as for Chechnya. It said that as long as it continues, the group would oppose the release of World Bank and International Monetary Fund Loans to Russia.

In an interview with RFE/RL Russian Service broadcaster Irina Lagunina, Brzezinski summed up the organization's view this way:

"What is happening in Chechnya is a form of genocide. It is a tragedy for the Chechens, ultimately I think it will also be a tragedy for the Russians. It may end up destroying the Chechen people and it may end up creating in Russia a political system which will worsen the dilemmas that Russia confronts."

Brzezinski added:

"The humanitarian goals of this committee are to encourage, particularly the current Russian government to stop the persecution of the Chechens, to adopt more civilized standards of behavior, to respect the UN human right convention, in brief, not to treat the Chechens the way the Nazis treated the Russians, the Ukrainians, the Poles and the Jews and many others during World War II"

The committee also said the United States should announce a comprehensive plan to deter what it called Russian aggression and provide humanitarian relief to the Chechen people.

The group said the U.S. should also initiate consultations with other members of the Group of Seven (G-7) industrial democracies regarding the suspension of Russia from participation in the annual G-7 summit.

It also said the United Nations Commission on Human Rights should appoint a special rapporteur on Chechnya with authorization to investigate alleged Russian violations of the Geneva Convention regarding conduct toward civilians.