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Russian mothers to meet Chechen envoy

  |   Nov. 16, 2004 at 5:00 AM
MOSCOW, Nov. 16 (UPI) -- The Russian Union of Soldiers' Mothers Committees said it plans to meet Chechen separatist envoy Akhmed Zakayev to discuss stopping the bloodshed in Chechnya.

Valentina Melnikova, the organization's executive secretary, said the meeting was authorized by Chechen separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov and would take place Nov. 23 or 24 in Brussels, Interfax reported Tuesday.

"The main goal of the talks is to find a way out of the Chechen impasse and to stop the bloodshed in Chechnya," Melnikova said.

The Chechen leadership has criticized the initiative. "Not a single sober-minded person will sit at a negotiating table with terrorists known throughout the world," First Deputy Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov earlier told Interfax.

In October Zakayev told the Moscow News, "We are grateful to the soldiers' mothers that they have noted the terrible price the Chechen people had to pay for the ten years of war. We also understand the pain that the soldiers' mothers suffer when their sons die in the war that neither Chechen nor Russian people need."

The organization helps conscripts get through Russia's legal system and fight for their rights. In October it announced plans to form a political party.

© 2004 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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