On July 23, the newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported that an expanded session of the State Defense Committee of Ichkeria had been held in the Vedeno District of Chechnya during late June and early July. The paper’s account was then reproduced verbatim by the pro-Maskhadov website Chechenpress.com, suggesting that some elements among the Chechen separatists deemed it to be reasonably accurate. “At the session,” Nezavisimaya Gazeta wrote, “military and information committees were created. The first is to be headed by Shamil Basaev, who will simultaneously become Maskhadov’s deputy for the post of commander-in-chief; the second will be headed by Akhmed Zakaev…. Sources close to Aslan Maskhadov have specifically remarked that the distinctive characteristic of this session was the participation in it, in addition to the [field] commanders, of members of the [separatist] government, parliament, heads of district committees and representatives of the Council of Elders of Ichkeria.” This meeting, the paper observed, “marked the final overcoming of disagreements between Maskhadov and Basaev and the recognition by Basaev of the authority of the last elected president of Ichkeria.” On July 22, Gazeta.ru reported that, at this same meeting in Vedeno District, Kazbek Makhashev had been named the new representative of Maskhadov for negotiations with Moscow. Two years previously, the website noted, Makhashev had “conducted secret negotiations with the head of the Duma Commission for Chechnya, Pavel Krashennikov, which, it is true, had concluded without results.” Commenting on Makhashev’s appointment, the pro-Moscow premier of Chechnya, Stanislav Ilyasov, remarked: “Yes, Makhashev is a well-known personality who was once in charge of the republic’s Interior Ministry and other law enforcement agencies, and he is regarded as a responsible and reasonable man. But all these appointments on behalf of the ‘clandestine leader of the nation’ are senseless” (Infocentre.ru, July 24).