Publication: Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 129

Chechen raids killed at least 11 Russian soldiers (six of them in Grozny) November 4 through 6. Some 1,500 people (by the Russian authorities’ version) rallied in downtown Grozny November 5 to demand independence, the withdrawal of Russian troops, and free elections. Russian overall commander Lt. General Anatoly Shkirko conceded to the Defense Ministry’s newspaper that the federal authorities and local collaborators "don’t have any considerable part of Chechnya under control. Dudayev’s and his supporters’ propaganda campaign… promoting separatist ideas is rather effective. This explains the numerous protest rallies which constantly go on in Chechnya." (9)

Russian presidential envoy Oleg Lobov and chief negotiator Vyacheslav Mikhailov disavowed Internal Affairs Minister Anatoly Kulikov’s calls to stop negotiating with the Dudayev side, seek deals with individual Chechen field commanders, and attack the "irreconcilables" with full force. Lobov and Mikhailov said that Kulikov’s views were his own and not cleared with higher political authority; and that negotiations with Dudayev’s delegation would continue. (Kulikov’s views, in fact, mirror Defense Minister Pavel Grachev’s). But the talks remained in suspension due to the Russian side’s demand to move the venue outside Grozny and include the new, Moscow-installed Chechen leader Doku Zavgayev on the Chechen side of the table. (10)

Ruslan Khasbulatov, the former chairman of Russia’s parliament now being tried out by Moscow as a possible peacemaker in his native republic, publicized a set of proposals in a full-page article in Groznensky rabochii, a TV interview, and a news conference. Khasbulatov called for legal immunity guarantees to the pro-Dudayev fighters, Russian political recognition of Dudayev and his inclusion in the political negotiations, and refocusing those talks on drafting a treaty defining Chechnya’s political status, to be followed by the formation of a coalition government and elections no later than March. The proposed political status would entail Chechen acceptance of Russian citizenship and currency, full freedom of circulation between Chechnya and the rest of Russia, and Chechnya’s "demilitarization," ruling out the stationing of army troops. The media blitz seemed to bespeak the Moscow representatives’ imprimatur on the core of the proposals, at the very least as a trial balloon. Its representatives have recently themselves signaled their wish to draw Dudayev into the negotiations. (11)

Khasbulatov also sharply criticized Moscow authorities for relying on highly unpopular collaborators in Chechnya and for ill-considered statements inflaming the situation. As if to confirm those criticisms, Russian authorities appointed an ethnic Russian, identified only as Danilov, as mayor of Grozny; and publicized a string of alarmist allegations that Chechen field commanders had sentenced Kulikov to death at a secret, symbolic trial, that Dudayev had planned to storm Grozny at the weekend or on the November 7 holiday, and that the resistance had planted time bombs to kill pro-independence demonstrators and blame the carnage on the Russian authorities. (12)

Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) has officially confirmed that it holds Tamerlan Avtorkhanov, German citizen and son of the renowned emigre Chechen sovietologist Abdurakhman Avtorkhanov. According to the FSB, the younger Avtorkhanov’s stated purpose was to study the situation of refugees and he was carrying Red Cross documents, but no Russian visa. He was arrested September 14 in Dagestan en route to Chechnya from Azerbaijan. The FSB accuses him of being a Western intelligence agent, but offers to exchange him for five Russian border guards (headed by a Colonel) held prisoner since August by Chechens in Dagestan. (13) The offer means that FSB as a state institution is involving itself in the hostage-taking game.