Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov has rejected proposals floated by Russian Security Council Secretary Ivan Rybkin that Chechnya should become an "associated member" of the Russian Federation. "Chechnya will never, in any circumstances, agree to remain within Russia’s constitutional and legal space," Maskhadov declared this week. He said Chechnya is prepared to maintain close cooperation with Russia, including the establishment of a common economic and defense space, but insisted that relations between the Chechnya and Russia must be those of two sovereign independent states. "Membership of a state within a state" holds no interest for Chechnya, Maskhadov said, adding that Chechnya still wants to sign a full-scale treaty with Russia. (ORT, February 3)
Chechen Foreign Minister Movladi Udugov has warned that time is running out for Chechnya and Russia to reach a settlement. The election schedule in Russia calls for parliamentary races in 1999 and a presidential one in 2000. This year is therefore the last year, Movladi said, before Russia gets caught up in election fever and issues become so politicized that they can no longer be resolved on their merits. (Itar-Tass, January 30) (The reform wing of the Russian government has voiced precisely the same misgivings regarding the fate of Russia’s draft tax code.)
In a conversation with the Monitor’s correspondent, Udugov said that he thinks the latest terrorist act in Buinaksk (see the Monitor, February 2) was the work of the Russian security services. In Udugov’s opinion, it was carried out in an effort to disrupt his meeting with Louis Farrakhan, leader of the "Nation of Islam," who is in Russia on a private visit. In Moscow, Farrakhan attended services marking the end of Ramadan at a local mosque. He also visited Dagestan with a group of Muslim clergy from his movement, but was asked to leave the republic after the first reports of the terrorist act.
Radiation Source on Outskirts of Grozny.