Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 153

Yesterday’s allegations by Malashenko and Berezovsky could damage not only the credibility of the Chechen government but also the fragile peace deal patched together in Moscow on August 18 by Russian president Boris Yeltsin and Chechen president Aslan Maskhadov. The agreement by the two presidents to set up a task force to draft a treaty between the federal and Chechen governments was far from a definitive settlement of the Russian-Chechen conflict. Nonetheless, it represented progress in that Maskhadov acknowledged openly for the first time that Chechnya and Russia have shared security interests. This was a major step forward and seemed to be the basis on which some kind of modus vivendi might be worked out.

In undermining the credibility of the Chechen government, Malashenko and Berezovsky are threatening to undermine the peace deal. But their remarks may also have been aimed at opponents in the Russian government. Fifty-one percent of NTV is owned by Vladimir Gusinsky’s Media Most Group, which, along with Berezovsky’s Logovaz, fell out last month with First Deputy Prime Ministers Anatoly Chubais and Boris Nemtsov when the two "young reformers" supported Oneksimbank in its bid for control of the state telecoms giant Svyazinvest. The Svyazinvest controversy has split the Russian government and financial establishment in two, and the possibility can therefore not be excluded that Malashenko’s attack on the Chechen government is aimed also at settling scores with the Russian government.

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