Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 160

According to Russian government sources, the political settlement plan submitted by Aleksandr Lebed to President Boris Yeltsin includes an option to defer a decision on the matter for a transitional period of five years in order to allow for political and economic normalization, the summoning of a representative Chechen forum, holding of free elections, and the organization of a referendum in Chechnya. This scenario — dubbed "deferred status" — entails negotiations with the resistance leadership over the details of Chechnya’s political status. It reportedly leaves unresolved the question whether Chechnya will have its own army, and if so whether it will be subordinated to the Chechen political leadership or be a part of Russia’s armed forces.

Ruslan Khasbulatov, the ethnic Chechen former chairman of the Russian parliament and arch rival of Boris Yeltsin, said yesterday that he is advising Chechen political leader Zelimkhan Yandarbiev to accept a "common economic space" and a single Russian citizenship. Khasbulatov, who does not live in Chechnya, claims to head a group of advisers to Yandarbiev on the matter of Chechnya’s future status — a claim neither confirmed nor denied by the resistance leadership. A critic of Russia’s war in Chechnya but also a convinced supporter of Chechnya’s affiliation with Russia, Khasbulatov is coordinating his activities with Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, hopes to use his role for a political comeback, and seems to be used by at least some Moscow officials as a counterweight to Lebed.

Former USSR president Mikhail Gorbachev proposed yesterday that Chechnya become an "associate member" — rather than subject — of the Russian Federation. Gorbachev cited the model of the Kingdom of Poland (before 1863), Grand Duchy of Finland, and Emirate of Bukhara within Tsarist Russia. (Russian and Western agencies, August 28).

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