Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 183

On the night of October 1, all 80 officials of Russia’s representation in Chechnya were expelled from the republic on the personal orders of Chechen vice-president Vakha Arsanov. The crisis erupted after a Chechen delegation, headed by the vice-president, was denied permission to fly to Baku. Under an agreement with Moscow, the Grozny authorities may use Russian planes to make official trips abroad. But Arsanov chose a private Russian airline company and the crew of the plane did not have a license to fly outside Russia. When these misunderstandings were cleared up, Arsanov’s delegation was refused permission to pass through passport and customs controls. Long negotiations ensued, during which the Chechen side told the Russian side that, if the plane was not allowed to take off, the Russian president’s representation in Chechnya would be expelled from the republic. Moscow appealed to Chechen president Aslan Maskhadov, who replied that he could not countermand the order of his vice-president. (NTV, October 1; Izvestia, October 2)

Grozny appears to have used the incident to demonstrate its general dissatisfaction with Moscow’s present policy. Commenting on the expulsions, Maskhadov said virtually nothing about the incident that preceded them and focused on general problems between Moscow and Grozny. He complained that Russia does not want to establish diplomatic relations with Chechnya, is not complying with previously-reached agreements, and is building a cordon sanitaire around Chechnya. In these circumstances, Maskhadov said, it would be better if there were no Russian representatives in Grozny, since that would bring home to the residents of the republic the fact that Chechnya is a besieged fortress. Maskhadov added that, although he did not want to force himself on Yeltsin, he thought a meeting of the two presidents would be advisable. (NTV, October 1) Arsanov, the formal initiator of the conflict, also called for a meeting at presidential level. Citing an anonymous source in the Security Council, Izvestia reported that Arsanov’s actions had been cleared with the Chechen president. (Izvestia, October 2)

Moscow Unlikely to "Forgive and Forget;" Arsanov Criticized.