The Russian-Chechen commission on drafting a full-scale treaty between Moscow and Grozny met over the weekend in Dagomys, close to Sochi, and decided to set up three working groups. In addition to the treaty itself, these groups will be responsible for drafting agreements on a common Russian-Chechen defense and economic space. They will meet for the first time on September 24. On the Russian side, they will be headed by Nationalities Minister Vyacheslav Mikhailov, Security Council deputy Secretary Col. Gen. Leonid Maiorov, and Duma leader Aleksandr Shokhin.
Perhaps the most significant result of the weekend meeting was a joint statement signed by Russian Security Council secretary Ivan Rybkin and Chechen first deputy prime minister Movladi Udugov. This states that "The delegations of the Russian Federation and the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, working to continue the peace process and concerned for its future, consider any harsh statements and openly hostile verbal attacks on each other to be unacceptable." (NTV, September 14)
Following last week’s erroneous reports by Itar-Tass about the deaths in Chechnya of three workers who had come to repair the Chechen section of the oil pipeline, Russian first deputy prime minister Boris Nemtsov threatened that, if Grozny could not guarantee the security of such workers, Moscow would repudiate the Russian-Chechen oil transit agreements it had signed earlier in the week. Nemtsov’s words provoked a sharply negative reaction in Chechnya. It is therefore significant that Rybkin stated in Dagomys that the issue of the transit of early Caspian oil through Chechnya had been definitively resolved, thus letting it be known that, regardless of what happens, the Kremlin does not intend to go back on the agreements it has signed with Chechnya. The Kremlin underscored this position by choosing to forget about its ultimatum, issued last week, not to attend the Dagomys talks unless Chechen vice president Vakha Arsanov retracted his threat that Russian leaders guilty of unleashing "genocide" in Chechnya would be publicly shot in Grozny.
In other respects, however, the meager results of the Dagomys meeting indicated that the two sides remain far apart. They undermined the claim made by Chechen president Aslan Maskhadov yesterday that he and Russian president Boris Yeltsin are almost ready to sign a full-scale international treaty recognizing Chechnya’s independence and establishing diplomatic relations between Russia and Chechnya.
Russia, NATO Spar Over Bosnia Policy.