Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 70

In a long interview recorded by Duma deputy Konstantin Borovoi and published in full by a Moscow daily yesterday, Chechen president Djohar Dudaev expressed a strong preference for direct, unmediated negotiations with Russian president Boris Yeltsin. Dudaev repeated his long-held view that he and Yeltsin could "solve everything in half an hour" if Yeltsin had the will. Yeltsin’s long-standing refusal to meet with Dudaev, for reasons described by the Russian president himself as injured personal pride, has thus far contributed to the failure of attempts to settle the conflict politically.

Russian military authorities at several levels contradicted each other yesterday on the situation in Vedeno and Dargo, major Chechen strongholds situated in the southeast of the republic. Some reported their capture while others denied that any operation had taken place there. But there was no disagreement about Russian forces encircling the district center of Shali, where thousands of residents have been staging pro-independence and pro-Dudaev rallies shown on Russian independent television.

The Moscow-installed administration in Grozny called a "Congress of Chechnya’s Peoples" for April 20 in an apparent effort to achieve a semblance of legitimacy. Congresses of this type — one is being proposed for Tajikistan by Moscow and the Dushanbe regime — are intended to create the appearance of a search for public consensus by authorities which seek to monopolize real power. (Moskovsky Komsomolets, Itar-Tass, RIA, NTV, April 9)