Chechen opposition leaders say they would be willing to sign an economic agreement with Russia, as long as it contained no mention of Chechnya as a subject of the Russian Federation. (Interfax, October 13) Ruslan Chimaev, foreign minister in the Chechen opposition government, told Interfax that such an agreement should cover customs tariffs, banking connections, transport links, and energy supplies. He noted that, at least as far as energy is concerned, Chechnya has no interest in cutting itself off from Russia. As for the proposals that have appeared in the Russian press for a free economic zone in Chechnya ("a kind of Russian Hong Kong"), Chimaev said this could be only a temporary solution, pending a final decision on the status of the republic. (According to the Khasavyurt accords, Chechnya’s status would be put on hold for five years, but should be decided by the end of 2001.) Chimaev said the proposed treaty should cover the rebuilding of Chechnya’s war-devastated economy — indicating that Chechnya expects to receive money for this from Moscow — though he warned that Moscow should not expect Chechnya to agree to pay any kind of taxes to Moscow. What Chechnya has in mind, Chimaev said, is the kind of treaty Russia would sign with Belarus, Ukraine, or Kazakhstan. Russia’s 1994 treaty with Tatarstan would not, therefore, be an acceptable model. While tactfully making no mention of Tatarstan as a subject of the Russian Federation, it specifically acknowledged the Russian Constitution.
Dagestan Moves Onto Lebed’s Agenda.