Chechen first deputy prime minister Movladi Udugov has flatly denied a statement by Tatarstan’s president Mintimer Shaimiev that Shaimiev and Chechen president Aslan Maskhadov will soon meet in Kazan. (Interfax, March 8, 9) It is not clear what happened to derail the planned meeting at which, according to Shaimiev, the first trade and economic agreement between Chechnya and one of Russia’s constituent republics was to be signed. The Chechen side may feel that Shaimiev, who is working as a mediator in the negotiations between Moscow and Djohar-gala, is too close to the Kremlin. Back in 1995, Maskhadov said that a power-sharing agreement similar to that signed in 1994 by Russia and Tatarstan might be acceptable to Chechnya. Since that time, Chechen attitudes have hardened and Chechen leaders have repeatedly ruled out a "Tatarstan solution" for Chechnya, though Shaimiev has continued to advocate it.
Confusion also surrounds the status of the peace agreement between Russia and Chechnya that both sides had earlier described as nearly ready for signing by the Russian and Chechen presidents. (See Monitor, March 3) Now the Chechen side is complaining that Moscow has gone back on some points agreed on earlier, and Udugov has announced that the signing ceremony will be delayed. (Ekho Moskvy, March 9)
Mass Protest in Minsk Against Russia-Belarus Community.