Publication: Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 137

Last week, President Boris Yeltsin issued instructions to hold concurrent federal and republican elections in Chechnya on December 17. His own men on the scene are not happy about the prospect. "Elections are impossible to hold, and would only be a farce if held," said Lt. General Sergei Kovun, Deputy Commander in Chief of Russia’s Internal Affairs Ministry troops in Chechnya. Russia’s deputy chief negotiator in Chechnya, Arkady Volsky, described Yeltsin’s decision as "unreasonable" as it could lead to "armed clashes at polling stations. Thus by the end of the day on December 17, we may have to learn the results of military actions in Chechnya, rather than the election results. This could affect Russia’s elections very negatively." At a session of the Russian-promoted Round Table of Chechen political parties, attended also by top Russian officials, most parties opposed the holding of elections, arguing that this should follow the determination of Chechnya’s political status and withdrawal of Russian troops. Most parties also charged that the decision to hold elections was meant to push Chechens into fighting each other.

President Dzhokhar Dudayev reappeared in public after several months for a news conference in a village 20 kilometers south of Grozny. Dudayev proposed bilateral negotiations between himself and Russian prime minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, and professed confidence in a quick compromise that would take Russian and Chechen interests into account. Elections would then follow, he said. A council of Chechen field commanders at the same time announced that any cooperation with Moscow’s plan to hold the elections would be punished as national treason. (10)

Production of Topol-M Strategic Missiles to Start.