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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 December 2004, 19:59 GMT
Chechnya viewpoints: Valentina Melnikova
The conflict that has raged in Chechnya for the past decade has triggered sharply contrasting views.

To mark the 10th anniversary of Russia's massive military assault on the breakaway republic, BBCrussian.com asked 10 prominent politicians, human rights activists, researchers and journalists to comment.

The panel were asked to answer two classic questions that have troubled Russian thinkers for centuries: "Who is to blame?" and "What can be done?"

Alu Alkhanov
Alu Alkhanov:
Chechen president

Irina Khakamada
Irina Hakamada:
liberal politician

Diederik Lohman
Diederik Lohman:
HRW researcher

Konstantin Kosachev
Konstantin Kosachev:
Russian MP

Sultan Yashurkayev
Sultan Yashurkayev:
Chechen writer
Tom de Waal
Tom de Waal:
Caucasus expert

Valentina Melnikova
Valentina Melnikova:
Soldiers' mothers

Mikhail Margelov
Mikhail Margelov:
Russian MP

Lyoma Turpalov
Lyoma Turpalov:
Chechen journalist

Akhmed Zakayev
Akhmed Zakayev:
rebel envoy


VALENTINA MELNIKOVA, leader of the Russian Union of Soldiers' Mothers Committees

In October the "Soldiers' Mothers" offered to serve as mediators between the Russian government and Chechen separatists

WHO IS TO BLAME?

Ten years of war on Russian territory, on the territory of Chechnya, is certainly a result of the inability of politicians and the authorities to satisfy everyone's appetites and ambitions by peaceful means.

Russian soldier in Grozny
QUICK GUIDE

Political decisions the president makes depend on his advisers, aides and everyone who has influence. At the moment, perhaps, there is a lack of desire to make such decisions. Or perhaps because the conflict has dragged on for so long, nobody sees a realistic solution.

I think that despair, the yearning for a miracle - that someone will come and tell us how to stop the war - is omnipresent. I think this is why everyone was so enthusiastic about our proposal to meet Chechen field commanders.

WHAT CAN BE DONE?

Nobody wants, or is capable of taking, responsibility to end this war quickly. But, after talking to the Chechen side first, we might be able to offer something realistic to the Russian authorities - so that neither side loses face.

The Chechen war and the long experience of cruelty have started to produce terror
Valentina Melnikova
Sooner or later our message will be heard. Sooner or later the hostilities will end.

The situation is such that we must take the first step. If we can bring back some kind of an offer [after talking to the Chechens], many officials will have to be involved. I mean the leadership of the Chechen republic and of the southern federal district.

If we find more people like Akhmed Zakayev, who also live in Europe and have a mandate from field commanders, this might be sufficient.

We cannot demand that they talk to us as a single team. We should first hear their opinions.

Europe is concerned about the situation in Russia, because the Chechen war and the long experience of cruelty have started to produce terror.

Terror in Russia is clearly the child of the Chechen war.


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