Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 3 Issue: 9

On March 15, the Public Consultative Council, established under the auspices of the State Duma-Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) Working Group on Chechnya, met for the first time in Moscow. The group consisted of some thirty representatives of Chechen factions with widely diverging political aims and included backers of Aslan Maskhadov. According to the council’s coordinator, Abdul-Khakim Sultygov, executive secretary of the Duma-PACE joint working group, the forum “can function as a conduit whereby the Russian leadership can communicate with the Chechen president” (RFE-RL Caucasus Report, March 21). To date, neither Putin nor Maskhadov has directly endorsed the initial talks or delegated any representative, “but both are said to be closely monitoring them.” Lord Judd of Great Britain, co-chair of the Duma-PACE working group, said that there was a possibility that the talks could “change the psychology” of the stalemate over Chechnya (New York Times, March 25).