Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 214

Over the next several days a document could be signed that reflects the new political realities between Moscow and Grozny. According to Security Council Secretary Ivan Rybkin, the document will speak of military cooperation between Russia and Chechnya, and a declaration will be adopted stating that conflicts between Moscow and Grozny will henceforth not be resolved by force. (NTV, Ekho Moskvy, November 13) Vladimir Zorin, chairman of the State Duma’s Committee on Nationalities, has told the Monitor that the prospective agreement will also address other basic questions, including the creation of a free economic zone (FEZ) on the territory of Chechnya, a mechanism for holding elections there, and the payment of compensation.

The president of Ingushetia, Ruslan Aushev, told the Monitor that "the idea of creating a FEZ in Chechnya is reasonable. The FEZ on the territory of Ingushetia has given our republic quite a lot. But for the Chechen side, the formulation is very important. If this law states that the FEZ is part of the Russian Federation, then the Chechen side will never agree to it."

But even an accord on creating a FEZ in Chechnya will still leave unresolved a key problem. According to Zorin, the notion that Chechnya should neither pay into, nor receive money from, the federal budget is "reminiscent of Chechnya under Djohar Dudaev before the intervention of Russian troops. At that time, mass quantities of goods not subject to taxation were brought into Grozny by charter flights from the so-called ‘far abroad.’ Sale of these goods in Russian markets became one of Chechens’ main sources of income." Zorin warned that customs cordons would have to be erected on the borders of the FEZ. "After all," he said, "we have to make sure to defend the Russian market." In this context, it is probably no accident that the draft agreement stipulates that a 70-kilometer sector of the Georgian-Chechen border will be jointly guarded by Chechen resistance forces and Russian troops. (Ekho Moskvy, November 13) In other words, Moscow is proposing to Grozny an arrangement that is less attractive than that which existed before Russian troops intervened.

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