Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 92

Chechnya yesterday celebrated the first anniversary of the signing of the peace treaty with Russia. By a decree of President Aslan Maskhadov, May 12 was declared a national holiday. (NTV, RTR, May 12) The day before, the Chechen parliament ratified the treaty. (Itar-Tass, May 11)

Moscow and Djohar have different assessments of the treaty. From the Kremlin’s point of view, the document does not call Russia’s territorial integrity into question. In the view of the Chechen authorities, by signing the treaty, Moscow unconditionally recognized Chechen independence.

If one carefully analyzes the text of the document, it is clear that, from the legal point of view, Djohar’s view is closer to the truth. First, the document stipulates that the negotiations were conducted between “high contracting parties,” the legal term used to refer to independent states. Second, the treaty’s title is “On Peace and Mutual Relations Between the Russian Federation and the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria.” Moscow objected to this formulation for a long time, raging that a peace treaty could be signed only with an independent state, not with a subject of the Russian Federation. It is nonetheless clear what motivated the Kremlin to take such a drastic measure. Moscow hoped that signing the treaty would boost Maskhadov’s popularity, and that this would help him deal with Chechen radicals. Immediately after the signing of the treaty, Maskhadov announced that all armed detachments which did not become part of the presidential guard and law enforcement agencies would be disbanded. He promised a speedy clampdown on crime.

Now, it is obvious that neither promise could be kept. Salman Raduev, who claims responsibility for virtually every terrorist act on Russian territory, continues to lead his armed detachment, the “Army of General Dudaev.” Rogue Chechen fighters not only make armed raids into neighboring Dagestan and Ingushetia, they have even kidnapped the Russian president’s personal representative in Chechnya, Valentin Vlasov, who has been in captivity since the beginning of this month.

Nor has the treaty given Chechnya much to celebrate. According to Chechen Foreign Minister Movladi Udugov, Russia has not fulfilled a single treaty obligation. The republic has not been paid compensation for war damages, nor has the Djohar airport been given international status. (NTV, May 12).

Maskhadov told a press conference on May 11 that he would, “without a moment’s hesitation,” sign the document again today. “Russian people in general have never wanted to go to war against Chechnya, but want civilized relations with it,” Maskhadov said. At the same time, he said that “[t]here is not a single Chechen in the world today who would want Chechnya to be part of Russia.” He expressed hope that the fact that Russia’s new prime minister, Sergei Kirienko, visited Chechnya in his former capacity as energy minister, “and saw the destruction with his own eyes,” may bring about an improvement in relations between Moscow and Djohar. (Itar-Tass, May 11)