The Chechen Foreign Ministry expressed “serious concern” yesterday over the joint exercises involving Russian army and Interior Ministry troops being held all this week across the border from Chechnya in Stavropol Krai, Dagestan and North Ossetia. (RTR, July 28; and see the Monitor, July 28) According to the newspaper Izvestia, the purpose of the exercises is to work out a system of decision-making in case the situation in the region heats up and gangs of bandits break through from Chechnya to neighboring parts of Russia proper. The fact that General Anatoly Kvashnin, chief of the Russian General Staff, has flown to the North Caucasus to monitor the exercises shows how seriously they are being taken. (Izvestia, July 28) Chechnya’s Foreign Ministry complained, however, that the exercises were an attempt by Russia to put pressure on the Chechen authorities in the run-up to the meeting between Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov and Russian Prime Minister Sergei Kirienko that is expected to take place some time this week. (RTR, July 28)
Chechnya’s five-week state of emergency expired at midnight last night. (RTR, July 28) President Aslan Maskhadov said he did not intend to extend it. It was declared on June 22, a day after the republic’s national security service chief Lecha Khultygov was killed in a shootout with soldiers loyal to maverick field commander Salman Raduev. It was extended on July 18, following clashes in Gudermes between government troops and so-called “Wahhabis.”
ENDGAME IN UKRAINE-IMF LOAN NEGOTIATIONS.