The foreign minister of secessionist Chechnya appealed Wednesday for political and economic support from the United States and “all countries that believe in freedom and human rights.”
Shamsettin Yusuf, who said his great-grandfather and all generations since then have struggled for Chechen independence, is not here with kind words for Russian President Boris Yeltsin.
“He does not know what he is doing,” Yusuf said in an interview.
“He took a decision to go to war while he was drinking vodka, and I am afraid he will take another decision to conquer anywhere in the world.”
Yeltsin sent troops and tanks to the rebel region six weeks ago to put down the revolt. Fighting still rages in Grozny, the capital, and Russian forces are bombarding rebel strongholds.
The Clinton administration is opposed to the Chechens’ breakway attempt but has urged Yeltsin to minimize civilian casualties, speed relief and protect human rights.
Yusuf, a close associate of Chechen President Dzhokar Dudayev’s, met Wednesday with several members of Congress. He said he plans to see State Department officials Friday even though the United States does not recognize Chechnya as an independent country.