As is known, the right of peoples to self-determination is one of the basic principles of international law, which means the right of each people to independently decide on the form of their state existence, freely determine their political status without outside interference and carry out their economic and cultural development.
He received recognition in the process of the collapse of the colonial system , and was enshrined in the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples (adopted by Resolution No. 1514 of the XVth UN General Assembly of December 14, 1960) and subsequent international pacts and UN declarations.
This principle, along with other principles, is proclaimed in the UN Charter, which aims to “develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples.” The same goal is set in the UN Charter in connection with the development of economic and social cooperation between states.
Further, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of December 19, 1966 (Article 1) state: “All peoples have the right to self-determination. By virtue of this right, they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development … All States Parties to the present Covenant … must, in accordance with the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations, promote the exercise of the right to self-determination and respect this right.
The Declaration on the Principles of International Law (October 24, 1970) also states: “By virtue of the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, enshrined in the UN Charter, all peoples have the right to freely determine their political status without outside interference and to carry out their economic, social and cultural development and every State has an obligation to respect that right in accordance with the provisions of the Charter.”
The same Declaration states that the means of exercising the right to self-determination can be “the creation of a sovereign and independent state, free accession to or association with an independent state, or the establishment of any other political status.”
Similar principles are enshrined in the documents of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe: the Helsinki Final Act of 1975, the Final Document of the Vienna Meeting of 1986, the document of the Copenhagen Meeting of the OSCE Human Dimension Conference of 1990 and other international legal acts .
These international principles and the right to self-determination are directly related to the formation of the Chechen state. Without going into a historical digression about the existence of state formations among the Chechens since ancient times, we will dwell on the subject of the formation of the national statehood of the Chechens during the collapse of the USSR and after its liquidation.
According to Article 72 of the Constitution of the USSR, which was a amended by the Law of April 3, 1990, the right to secede from the Soviet Union was provided for only to the republics of the Union. It was also provided there, in the second and third parts of the said law, that “the decision to change the status and secession of an autonomous republic or an autonomous region from the USSR is possible only by a referendum. “
The first of the republics to use this right Russian Federation and on June 12, 1990, it proclaimed its sovereignty outside the USSR.
This initiative for self-determination was also supported on the territory of the Chechen Republic of China , where on November 23-25, 1990, the 1st Chechen National Congress was convened and a decision was made on behalf of the Chechen people to declare the sovereignty of the Chechen Republic of Nokhchicho . In fact, this was an act of a referendum, since the representatives of the congress, on behalf of the Chechen people, decided to choose a free path of development within the framework of the current legislation of the USSR and the RSFSR. It was precisely this path that the RSFSR chose when it convened its next congress of people’s deputies and proclaimed its sovereignty outside the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
So, the decision of the congress of the Chechen people was and legally fixed by the legally existing Supreme Council of the Chechen-Ingush Republic, which on November 27, 1990 issued a Resolution declaring the state sovereignty of the Chechen-Ingush Republic.
In a word, the Chechen people (taking into account that later the people of Ingushetia also wished to live as part of the RSFSR), in accordance with the generally recognized principles and norms of international law, while observing domestic law, expressed their will to self-determination at a new stage of their development. This corresponds to the legal establishment of the Declaration on the Principles of International Law (October 24, 1970 ) , which states that every people can freely determine its political status and carry out its economic, social and cultural development without outside interference.
Also, the said Declaration on State Sovereignty of the CHIR allowed to obtain an equal legal status, like the RSFSR, i.e. the status of a union republic.
This legal status did not change even after August 19, 1991 , when an attempt was made in Moscow against the president of the USSR , from which a wave of protests began throughout the entire territory of the union state.
Did not become an exception, which ultimately lost power in the republic and transferred powers again formed by the Provisional The Supreme Soviet is from among the deputies of the highest authority of the republic. The task of this Council was to prepare and conduct democratic elections to the state authorities of the republic, which it failed to cope with, and the election commission, created by the National Congress of the Chechen People, took over the preparation of the elections.
As a result, on October 27, 1991, parliamentary and presidential elections were held. Based on the will of the people, the President and the Parliament of the Republic were elected, thereby once again securing the right of the Chechen people to self-determination.
It follows from this that the inalienable right of the people to self-determination is connected with its national sovereignty and is the basis of its international legal personality. If peoples have the right to self-determination, then all other states have the duty to respect this right. This obligation also covers the recognition of those international legal relations in which the people themselves are the subject.
The will of the people, which elected the bodies of state power and administration , was once again enshrined in the Decree of the President of the Chechen Republic of November 1, 1991, proclaiming state sovereignty, thereby continuing the will of the Chechen people, expressed at the first congress on November 23-25, 1990.
Then, on March 12, 1992, the Constitution of the Chechen Republic was adopted and entered into force. And on June 12, 1992, all units of the former Soviet Army stationed on sovereign territory left the republics and, thereby de facto recognizing the sovereignty of the Chechen people.
It should be noted that since the declaration of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Chechen Republic, the latter has not taken part in all the ongoing activities to create authorities in the Russian statehood. Thus, the Chechen Republic did not sign federative agreements and did not participate in the formation of the state power of Russia, as well as when voting for the Constitution of the Russian Federation, which was adopted on December 12, 1993, i.e. almost more than a year and a half after the declaration of sovereignty and the adoption of the Constitution of the Chechen state
Thus, the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria , which received a change in name in 1993, in terms of compliance with domestic and international requirements for self-determination, quite legally and reasonably established its legal personality, created its own institutions of state power and administration within the country , while creating representative offices in other states of the Caucasus and the world. That is, from the point of view of international law, we are talking about the activities of sovereign states a , with its inherent features of a subject of international law.
By the way, it will be said that in this period of time, before the start of the conflict with Russia, it was precisely as a subject of international law that CRI was recognized by states such as Georgia and Afghanistan, and our countries were already ready to open official representative offices of the state with the right to present credentials by ambassadors mutually. But, as you know, these intentions were frustrated due to the change in the format of power in Georgia and the beginning of the second Russian aggression against our republic.
Direct relations between the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria and the Russian Federation also testify that there was compliance with the rules and protocol when interacting as subjects of international law.
While launching various Protocols and Agreements signed by these two states, both on the territory of Russia and in The Hague (Netherlands), when resolving the issue of resolving the military conflict, it should be recognized that the election of the President of the CRI on January 27, 1997 put a legal end to the issue on the status of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria. In the presence of international observers from the OSCE member states, on the basis of the Constitution of the CRI and in accordance with international law, the result of the election of state bodies of the republic was recognized: the President and the Parliament of the CRI.
Recognizing the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the CRI, the President, the Chairman of the Federation Council and the Prime Minister of the Russian Federation officially congratulated the leadership of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria on democratic elections, that is, de jure recognized the CRI as a subject of international law. The latter is confirmed by such a signed interstate document as the “Treaty on Peace and Principles of Relations between the Russian Federation and the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria” , where it was unequivocally stated that “ bilateral relations will be considered in the light of generally accepted norms and principles of international law”.
It follows from this that the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, in accordance with domestic and international law, established its authority on sovereign territory, and this fact was legally recognized by the subject of international law as the Russian Federation, from which, observing as currently in force domestic law , and the basic principles and norms of international law, the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria separated as an independent state, and therefore as a subject of international law.
In relation to the current situation, the Russian armed forces occupied and even annexed the sovereign territory of the CRI, which is a violation of international legal obligations and principles of interaction between subjects of international law, in accordance with the Geneva Convention of August 12, 1949.
It is indisputable that the very fact of occupation and annexation of foreign territory, according to the same Convention, does not acquire the right to sovereignty over this territory, regardless of the time of its occupation and retention by force. Therefore, the legal successor of the legitimate power – the Government of the CRI, located outside the country – continues legal and political work to de-occupy its territory.
The CRI government, repeating the previous statement, as a legitimate successor of a subject of international law, on the basis of the Constitution CRI conducts such diplomatic activities as the work of representative offices abroad and the opening of their own representative offices . Work is also underway to grant CRI citizenship to foreigners who wish and issue passports to citizens of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria.
Meetings of the leadership of the CRI Governments at the highest level with representatives of the OSCE and other international organizations, as well as various diplomatic initiatives against the Russian occupation of the Chechen Republic and Ichkeria , statements to the International Criminal Court about crimes against humanity and war crimes by the political and military leadership of Russia, the existence of criminal cases and their investigations within the framework of the instructions of the Prosecutor General of the CRI and the statement of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the CRI on political issues, this is not a complete list of the real activities of the Government of the CRI, which intends to wage a legal and political struggle until the complete de-occupation of its country from the aggressor.
History shows that similar situations were in the recent past in European countries. Thus, during the Second World War, the Polish government in exile continued its work in France and England for decades and was recognized by the world community as a legitimate representative of the Polish people.
A more striking example is the activity of the Baltic Governments, which achieved the return of the occupied territories, first by Nazi Germany, then by the Soviet Union, continuing the political struggle in exile until the final establishment of the independence of their countries.
Military occupation, like annexation, as international practice shows, ends with the cessation of control by the aggressor. It makes no difference whether this will be done in a year or decades. Today, it must be recognized that the CRI is de facto under occupation by the Russian Federation, but this is not a fact of the loss of sovereignty, which was proclaimed by the legitimate power of the CRI on the basis of its Constitution and recognized by the participation of representatives of more than fifty and European states as international observers .
Summing up, we can state the following: The Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, having proclaimed, at the will of the Chechen people, its independence and sovereignty, on the basis of the domestic law in force at that time, in compliance with the basic principles and norms of international law, and also defending its right to free development in the struggle with the aggressor in two bloody wars, which have no analogues in world history , continues the de-occupation of its territory through representatives of the CRI state authorities, while maintaining and protecting the status of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria as a subject of international law.
Dr. IKHVAN B. GERIKHANOV,
First Chairman of the Constitutional Court of the CRI, President of the National Tribunal on war crimes in the CRI Doctor of Law, specialist in international law, expert on human and civil rights.