Publication: Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 131

Hospitalized President Boris Yeltsin was visited yesterday by his chief negotiator in Chechnya and nationalities minister Vyacheslav Mikhailov, and by Internal Affairs Minister Anatoly Kulikov, whose ministry is in overall command of Russian troops in Chechnya. Mikhailov described the almost one hour-long meeting as his "longest and most productive" ever with Yeltsin. The president "stressed the need to do everything possible and make sure that elections are held" in Chechnya for Russia’s Duma. Mikhailov also reported that Moscow is ready to sign this month with Doku Zavgayev’s "government" an agreement on the division of powers between the Federation and Chechnya. In Grozny, however, Chechen president Dzhokhar Dudayev’s chief negotiator (and Mikhailov’s counterpart) Khodzhakhmed Yarikhanov ruled out holding elections for Russia’s Duma in Chechnya. He said that elections can only be held after Chechnya’s political status has been defined in the existing negotiations with Dudayev’s delegation; and accused the Russian side of torpedoing those negotiations.

Also in Grozny, the former chairman of Russia’s parliament Ruslan Khasbulatov, who is used, but not fully controlled, by Moscow as a peacemaker in his native republic, publicly urged Moscow to drop criminal charges against Dudayev and officially include him in the political negotiations. Russian policy in Chechnya also came under heavy fire from Yuri Skokov and Lt. General (ret.) Aleksandr Lebed in a joint statement on behalf of the Congress of Russian Communities. Skokov and Lebed accused "our Moscow leaders" of misusing the armed forces in Chechnya. "Our army, our brothers in uniform must not be made to pay with their blood for the mistakes and crimes of political leaders. We do not need more orphans, widows, and bereaved mothers." Skokov and Lebed called for settling the Chechen problem by political means. (10)