Russian-Chechen negotiations on military issues resumed as scheduled in Ingushetia’s capital Nazran yesterday. According to Chechen chief spokesman Movladi Udugov and chief of staff Aslan Maskhadov, the sides agreed in principle on a simultaneous withdrawal of Russian troops from Chechnya by August and the republic’s "demilitarization," In this context, "demilitarization" means the disarming of Chechen resistance forces. If the deal is reported accurately, the tradeoff essentially repeats the one agreed upon in the 1995 armistice negotiations but never implemented.
Russian chief delegate Vyacheslav Mikhailov, while far less specific than the Chechens, said nevertheless that the first day of the second round of talks had been "fruitful." He hoped that remaining differences would be settled today. Those differences now center on Moscow’s plan to hold June 16 elections to a collaborationist Chechen legislature which would then legitimize Chechnya’s political status within the Russian Federation. The Chechen delegation warned again yesterday that holding such elections next week would jeopardize the armistice. The Chechens want parliamentary elections only after Russian troops have been withdrawn.
The OSCE’s Chechnya mission has said publicly that at this time the necessary conditions for free and fair elections do not exist in Chechnya. The Moscow-installed Chechen authorities yesterday accused mission chief Tim Guldimann of pro-opposition partisanship and obliquely called for a halt to his activities in Chechnya.
More Talk on NATO Enlargement.