There is as yet no news about when Chechen leader Zelimkhan Yandarbiev will make his long awaited visit to Moscow, though his aide is already there to prepare for the visit. Yandarbiev was originally expected on September 23, but the visit was postponed because of illness. Kremlin sources said they believed the illness to be "diplomatic," caused by disagreements within the Chechen leadership. The same disagreements were believed to lie behind the decision of Yandarbiev and Chechen chief-of-staff Aslan Maskhadov not to attend the session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg last month. Chechen field commanders are said to have accused Yandarbiev and Maskhadov of being too accommodating in their negotiations with Russia and reproached them for backing down to Russian demands over the enforcement of Islamic law in the republic. (Argumenty i fakty news agency, September 17; see Monitor, September 24)
Now, if Russian news reports on the situation in Chechnya are to be believed, the advocates of an uncompromising policy towards Moscow have prevailed within the Chechen opposition. According to Interfax, Maskhadov told local television yesterday that, as soon as Russian troops have left Chechen territory, "We will build an Islamic state… We have no need of a coalition government appointed by Moscow." "When our victory is complete," Maskhadov reportedly continued, "our constitution will be based on Islamic law." (Interfax, October 1) Russian news reports also say that Yandarbiev has gone back on earlier agreements to exchange prisoners of war without conditions and is now demanding that Russia first pay $100,000 compensation to each Chechen family that lost a member in the war. (Argumenty i fakty newspaper, October 2)
Russian reports of events in Chechnya have frequently proven unreliable. Especially given the recent developments in Afghanistan, those lobbies within the Russian leadership that oppose Aleksandr Lebed’s peacemaking efforts and the withdrawal of Russian troops from Chechnya have an interest in painting a lurid picture of events in the republic. The true position of the Chechen leadership may become clear only when Yandarbiev makes his delayed visit to Moscow.
Lebed and Korzhakov Strike Up Alliance.