The two main figures whom Moscow installed as leaders in Chechnya have been replaced. Umar Avturkhanov and Salambek Khadzhiyev are leaving their posts as chairman of the National Accord Committee and prime minister of the National Revival Government, respectively. Avturkhanov is in line for appointment as deputy director of Russia’s tax police, and Khadzhiyev for the chairmanship of Russia´s State Committee for Industrial Policy. The changes were announced yesterday and today by Russia’s nationalities minister and chief negotiator in Chechnya, Vyacheslav Mikhailov, at a session of the Moscow-appointed government in Grozny. Avturkhanov was replaced by Legha Magomedov; Khadzhiyev was replaced by Doku Zavgayev.
Avturkhanov and Khadzhiyev have proven highly unpopular and ineffective in their roles, a fact sometimes openly admitted by Russian officials in Chechnya. Both the outgoing and the incoming pair are old-line communist cadres. Khadzhiyev was petrochemistry minister of the USSR in the last year of the USSR’s existence. Avturkhanov and Magomedov were minor local CPSU official in Chechnya. Zavgayev, on whom Moscow’s hopes currently appear to rest, was the last chairman of the Chechen-Ingush ASSR Supreme Soviet, was ousted by Chechen president Dzhokhar Dudayev in 1991, and until very recently occupied a medium-level post on president Boris Yeltsin´s staff.
Elsewhere, Russian prime minister Viktor Chernomyrdin attacked Russia’s "trigger-happy hotheads who have been calling for a war to the bitter end" in Chechnya. At a briefing for the staff of the Dubna nuclear research institute, Chernomyrdin reaffirmed his support for continued talks and "a great deal of patience" to resolve the Chechnya problem. But he insisted that Chechnya must remain "an integral part of Russia." (1)
E Pluribus, ?