On July 30, the Chechenand Russian delegations at the Grozny talks signed a militaryagreement halting hostilities and setting up procedures for theexchange of prisoners. Both sides hailed it as an important breakthrough,but neither side thought anyone would be entirely pleased withit or even be willing to accept it. Chechen president DzhokharDudayev immediately proved them right by denouncing the agreementas the result of Russian pressure. Moreover, Chechen units reportedlyattacked Russian ones in Grozny more than 20 times in the 24 hoursfollowing the signing of the military agreement. But the accord–whichwill lead to the withdrawal of most Russian forces, the exchangeof prisoners, to a ban on any effort to dismember Chechnya assome in Moscow had proposed, and will allow the Chechens to keepsmall armed formations for self-defense–has many supporters amongthose who simply want either an end to the fighting or at leasta breathing space. Indeed, the Chechen negotiators argued thatthe accord constituted de facto recognition of their statehood,even though Moscow officials denied that; and Russians opposedto the agreement said that it did little more than restore thestatus which Chechnya had enjoyed prior to the December 11, 1994,Russian intervention, i.e., unrecognized independence. One thingthat the accords did not do is provide any information on thefate of Fred Cuny, the American aid specialist who has been missingin Chechnya since April 9.
Russians Don’t Expect Peace in Chechnya.