Publication: Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 152

Ruslan Khasbulatov, the former chairman of Russia’s parliament, recently enlisted by Moscow to help return Chechnya to the federal fold, has announced his withdrawal from the December 17 election of the “head” of Chechnya. Khasbulatov accused Moscow of having ordered the concurrent regional and federal elections in Chechnya in order to rekindle Russian-Chechen hostilities, to add to them a Chechen civil war, and to divide the country into two areas: one controlled by Russian troops and their proteges in the northern lowlands, and another to be conceded to Dzhokhar Dudayev’s forces in the southern highlands. Khasbulatov said that he had “decided not to take part in this blood- stained game called elections.” He also pointed out that there were no valid lists of voters, that the authorities’ intention to organize “mobile” voting precincts guaranteed fraud, and that the majority of the population was highly unlikely to participate. (7) Khasbulatov’s withdrawal and his case against the election robs it of any shred of internal legitimacy it might have had. Only two weeks ago he had issued a blueprint for Chechnya’s autonomy within the Russian Federation closely similar to the interim agreement signed in Moscow December 8 by Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin with Moscow-appointed “head” of Chechnya Doku Zavgayev.

Yesterday in Grozny, on the first anniversary of the overt military intervention in Chechnya, up to 10,000 people (according to police figures) rallied under low- swooping Russian helicopters and in the sights of Russian armored vehicles to demand independence and the withdrawal of Russian troops. Rallies were also held in several Chechen district centers, and by sympathizing Russian democrats and veteran dissidents in Moscow. (8)

Russian Federation and Orenburg Oblast Sign Treaty.