Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 69

In a Swedish press interview published this morning, Chechen president Djohar Dudaev declared himself prepared to accept Russian president Boris Yeltsin’s offer of mediated talks, but also proposed direct talks with Yeltsin. Dudaev pointed out that mediators would lack the powers to ensure actual observance of a peace agreement, whereas direct negotiations with Yeltsin would commit Russia. In an overnight TV interview and a statement given yesterday to Duma deputy Konstantin Borovoi, Dudaev called for international involvement, including by the OSCE, in the negotiations; named Yabloko leader Grigory Yavlinsky, former USSR president Mikhail Gorbachev, Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov, Tatarstan president Mintimer Shaimiev, and Generals Boris Gromov and Aleksandr Lebed as potential mediators; and called for free elections in Chechnya as a corollary of any peace settlement after the withdrawal of Russian troops.

In the three statements, Dudaev commented that "red-brown" forces were in the ascendancy in Russia, including in the entourage of Boris Yeltsin, whose policy they are "openly discrediting." He described Yeltsin as the least culpable among senior Russian officials for the war in Chechnya. Interpreting Dudaev’s remarks as demanding changes in the Russian government, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin attacked Dudaev on TV as a "criminal," warning that "this is our region and we will act there on our own, irrespective of anything and anyone." The remarks underscored the impulsiveness and unpredictability of Kremlin policy and tended to vindicate Dudaev’s quest for guarantees. (Dagens Nyheter, NTV, Russian and Western agencies, April 8 & 9)

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