On June 11, the Foreign Ministry of the separatist Chechen Republic of Ichkeria issued a statement affirming: “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs… is deeply concerned with the failure of the OSCE Assistance Group in Chechnya to fulfill its mandate. As laid down in the decision of the OSCE Permanent Council of April 11, 1995, the Group is supposed to ensure respect for human rights in Chechnya and promote peaceful resolution of the conflict. Regrettably, a year of the OSCE renewed presence in Chechnya has been a complete failure in both these two main tasks of its mandate…. The ongoing Russian atrocities in Mesker Yurt are a striking example of the state of terror that Russia has imposed on the civilian population of Chechnya. Despite the numerous appeals of Chechen, Russian and international human rights watchdogs, the OSCE’s officials in Chechnya have not intervened to stop the ongoing acts of collective punishment in the town. Regrettably, our direct appeal to the US Secretary of State Colin Powell has also produced no results” (Statement #10-800, June 11).
On June 11, the website Utro.ru reported: “At a meeting of field commanders which was held over the last few days in the mountains of Chechnya, [separatist leader] Aslan Maskhadov posed the task of seizing and holding for several days one of the significant population points of the republic. For example, Argun, Gudermes, Shali or Vedeno, or one of the districts of Grozny. This was communicated by the administration of the FSB for Chechnya…. One of the representatives of the military commandants’ offices in Grozny, who fought in the last Chechen war, declared that ‘the situation strongly reminds one of August 1996, when the rebels calmly seized a city [Grozny]. Now everything is exactly the same–everyone [among the Russian soldiers] has grown flabby, there are no maneuvers being conducted on the repelling of an attack, there is feuding among the power agencies, and in Khankala (the headquarters of the group of forces) such a scenario is simply not being examined.” In an unusual development, this report by Utro.ru, which was based on FSB and Russian military sources, was also posted on the Maskhadov-oriented website, Chechenpress.com, on June 12.