Publication: Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 151

Russian prime minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and Security Council secretary Oleg Lobov signed with the appointed "head" of Chechnya Doku Zavgayev in Moscow December 8 an agreement on the basic principles of relations between the Russian Federation and Chechnya. The document empowers Chechnya to form its own governing bodies, conduct external political and economic relations, maintain its own missions abroad, independently determine its own budget and raise taxes, control natural resources and economic assets "other than federal property" on its territory, jointly manage the federal assets with the federal center, and allow its residents to perform military service in Chechnya, including in construction units to rebuild the republic. The federal center also commits itself to providing reconstruction aid and compensation to civilians for property destroyed during the fighting. The document is defined as an interim agreement, to serve as a basis for a final treaty on Chechnya’s "special status" in the Russian Federation and the delimitation of powers between the federal center and Chechnya, supposedly being already drafted and due to be signed in the first part of 1996. (8)

The document looks like a last-minute improvisation to obtain a minimally respectable turnout for the elections unexpectedly ordered by President Boris Yeltsin to be held in Chechnya December 17. It rests on an untenable legal basis, since its drafters and signatories were not empowered by any legislative authority, and it contradicts the federal constitution which does not provide for any "special status," but to the contrary stipulates that the federation’s republics are equal. No republic of the Russian federation enjoys such prerogatives, and a few of them might bid for this kind of special status if Chechnya obtains it. It is difficult to imagine that the future Duma, which will presumably be even more hard-line than the present one, could approve a precedent-setting and legally vulnerable document of this kind. Even if not meant from the outset as an election-eve deception, the document’s prospects to become law and to be further developed into a "special status" look highly unlikely.

Russia Taking Up Religious Cudgel Against Estonia.