Addressing the upper house of the Russian parliament yesterday, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, expressed full approval of Aleksandr Lebed’s peacemaking activity in Chechnya. (Interfax, October 8) Thanks to these efforts, he said, "the main goal was accomplished: the war has been stopped." Moreover, the prime minister scornfully dismissed allegations by Interior Minister Anatoly Kulikov that criminal circles helped Lebed set up the Khasavyurt meeting. (See Monitor, October 7)
The prime minister stressed, as he has before, that the Kremlin’s position on Russia’s territorial integrity remains unchanged. But his assessment of the Khasavyurt accords was more surprising. The accords, Chernomyrdin asserted, were not an agreement, but only a statement of the two sides’ intentions. In other words, Moscow does not consider itself bound by them. The senators concurred. The Federation Council resolution adopted yesterday stressed that the Chechen Republic is an integral part of the Russian Federation and described the accords merely as "evidence of the two sides’ willingness to resolve the conflict by peaceful means." (Interfax, October 8)
Chernomyrdin’s assessment of the Khasavyurt accords as preliminary agreements having no legal force, in conjunction with the statements stressing Russia’s territorial integrity, will irritate the Chechen opposition leaders. Chechen chief of staff Aslan Maskhadov has already issued a statement emphasizing that the Khasavyurt accords he signed with Lebed make no reference to Chechnya as a subject of the Russian Federation. (NTV, October 8)
Kulikov Backs Down.