Russia’s hawkish defense minister did an about-face on peace talks with Chechnya over the weekend, contradicting President Boris Yeltsin May 25 on their prospects for success and then hailing the talks two days later as a "constructive step" toward the cessation of hostilities. Grachev, whose imminent dismissal has been rumored for several weeks, was conspicuous by his absence at the signing ceremony of the Russian-Chechen preliminary agreement. In remarks prior to the talks May 27, Grachev denied that the military high command was displeased with Yeltsin’s decision to pursue peace negotiations with Chechen leaders. "The leadership of the Defense Ministry… cannot have a position different from the supreme commander-in-chief," he said. Grachev also accused unnamed political forces of trying to drive a wedge between the president and the military leadership on the eve of the election by insinuating that such tensions exist. (Reuter, May 25; Itar-Tass, May 27)
Zyuganov Publishes Election Program.