Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 173

In Chechnya, Lebed also discussed progress on forming a coalition government with the Chechen leaders and announced afterwards that there were no major disagreements between Moscow and the opposition on this point. But pitfalls to the speedy restoration of peace in Chechnya do remain. Chief among them is, as before, the final status of Chechnya. Moscow is insisting that the Khasavyurt accords put this issue on ice for five years, until the year 2001. But some leaders of the Chechen side are now treating the issue as all but settled, while others are saying there is no need to wait five years before settling it. Elections could be held in three-four months, they say, after which there would be no reason not to press on immediately with a referendum on Chechnya’s status.

Moscow also insists that Russia’s territorial integrity is inviolable. But Chechnya-Ichkeria minister of press and information Movladi Udugov told journalists yesterday that: "We are not violating the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation. We are not seceding from it, since we were never a part of it to begin with." Speaking with journalists after his meeting with Lebed, Yandarbiev also stressed that "we don’t need formal independence, what we need is real independence for Chechnya." (Interfax and Russian Television, September 17) Moscow is likely to view such statements as provocative.

Sacked Generals to be Reinstated?