Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 232

Abkhaz leader Vladislav Ardzinba received on December 10 in Sukhumi the newly appointed "plenipotentiary representative of the Chechen republic-Ichkeria" to Abkhazia, Ruslan Tuntaev. The envoy was appointed by Chechen president Aslan Maskhadov with a mandate to handle "economic and cultural-humanitarian affairs," political affairs were not cited. It is for the moment unclear whether a Chechen mission will be established in Sukhumi or whether Tuntaev will shuttle between Sukhumi and Grozny. (Russian agencies, December 10)

In either case, the appointment is not inconsistent with the recent rapprochement between Grozny and Tbilisi, which Grozny has initiated in its own interest. Most of the Chechen leadership has openly acknowledged the mistake of having joined Moscow in supporting Abkhaz secession in 1992-94. The Chechens seek a lifeline to the outside world in the form of a highway through Georgia. Meanwhile, a relationship between Grozny and Abkhazia can serve both sides as leverage in promoting their respective interests vis-a-vis Moscow.

Kocharian Distances Himself from Ter-Petrosian.