- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 19, 2003

The exiled foreign minister of Chechnya proposed yesterday that the conflict between his rebellious republic and Russia be resolved by the United Nations.
"Unfortunately, all our history shows that if we remain under Russian jurisdiction there will be only further extermination of Chechen people," Ilyas Mr. Akhmadov said at the National Press Club.
The oppositional Chechen government wants Russian troops in Chechnya replaced by U.N. peacekeepers and police.
Mr. Akhmadov said all Chechen military groups should be disarmed and that the United Nations should appoint a temporary government until free and democratic elections are conducted.
The opposition government of Chechnya has condemned the referendum scheduled for Sunday, which could prompt Moscow to grant the breakaway republic some autonomy while remaining part of Russia.
Human rights groups have raised concerns that the upcoming referendum will be rigged by authorities loyal to Moscow.
"Referendum is a propaganda action, which is aimed to legitimize what's going on in Chechnya," Mr. Akhmadov said.
The exiled minister said that even though his government condemns violence, he can't rule out the possibility that some rebel groups will disrupt the referendum with force. "The situation is unpredictable," he said.
Fearing attacks, the Chechen interior ministry deployed troops to guard the hundreds of voting stations set up throughout the mountainous republic.
One station located in a school was attacked overnight Monday, when unknown assailants shot at and set fire to the building in the southern village of Chiri-Yurt, interior ministry officials told the Agence France-Press news service.
Leading Russian artists and scientists published a statement yesterday urging Russian authorities to negotiate with separatist rebels .
It was signed by 60 leading figures, including chess champion Garry Kasparov and writers Vladimir Voinovich, Viktor Erofeev and Bella Akhmadulina.
Russian President Vladimir Putin refuses to recognize the Chechen government in exile led by Aslan Maskhadov, who was elected after the end of the republic's first separatist war in 1996.

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