Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 71

Attending yesterday the first working session of the state commission on the Chechnya settlement, chaired by Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, President Boris Yeltsin described its powers as coordinating the settlement plan, defining the plan’s "stages and sequence of their implementation, "interacting" with numerous state and administrative bodies, and regularly informing the public. Yeltsin also approved the commission’s own work plan for April and May. The heavily televised scene and latest "complex plan" again involving multiple elements and variants bore the hallmarks of a political exercise meant to temporize until the June presidential elections rather than to achieve a real settlement.

Yeltsin and presidential advisor Emil Pain read out a reportedly long, as yet secret, roster of mediators for negotiations with Chechen president Djohar Dudaev’s "side." "Some of the mediators will work together, others will replace each other at various stages as the need arises," Pain said echoing Yeltsin’s recent announcement. Other Kremlin officials similarly told the media yesterday that "the mediators will change at various points in the negotiating process." The peculiar concept appears virtually to rob the plan of seriousness unless it is simply meant to satisfy the electorate’s desire for high-profile gestures to halt the war. Against the basic rules of any mediation, the plan envisages a constant change of mediators instead of continuity and trust-building, and designates the mediators in Moscow rather than by both sides to the conflict. (Itar-Tass, Interfax, NTV, April 10)

Russian Government Considers Repurchase of Oil Shares.