The leader of the Russian Communist party, Gennady Zyuganov, has denounced the latest agreement signed by the prime ministers of Russia and Chechnya, saying it is unconstitutional and heralds the breakup of the Russian Federation. Zyuganov announced that the Communist faction in the Duma will call for a vote of no confidence in the government. He also likened the agreement to the 1991 Belovezhsky agreement that led to the break-up of the USSR.
Details of the interim agreement, signed in Moscow on November 23 by Viktor Chernomyrdin and Aslan Maskhadov, have not been revealed. It is understood to cover the restoration of trade ties–including oil and gas deliveries — and the resumption of air, road, and rail links between Russia and Chechnya. The agreement also calls for coordinated action with regard to security, and the two sides promise not to take actions threatening each other. (NTV, Interfax, November 23; BBC World Service, November 24)
Together with Yeltsin’s decree on withdrawing the two brigades from Chechnya (see below), the prime ministers’ agreement opens up a new era in Russia’s Chechnya policy. After losing Chechnya politically, the Kremlin is trying to preserve its economic interests there. Above all, this means preserving the oil pipeline, which makes the "northern alternative" for transporting oil from Azerbaijan possible. It is also important to Moscow that the section of railroad that unites Dagestan with the rest of Russia through Chechnya be restored to normal functioning.
Troop Withdrawal Removes Main Stumbling Block to Peace.