Russian finance minister Aleksandr Livshits says that the Russian government cannot start financing the rebuilding of war-devastated Chechnya until the republic’s political status is determined. (RTR, Interfax, October 5) If the government stuck to this position, it would undermine the Khasavyurt peace accords, which made a ceasefire possible by putting Chechnya’s status on ice for five years. But Livshits’ words look more like a bargaining chip.
Negotiations are currently going on over the composition of the coalition government, which will include representatives of the Chechen opposition, the Coordinating Council of Political Parties and Movements and the pro-Moscow government of Doku Zavgayev. According to Moscow News, the premiership is "the main subject of horsetrading." The opposition wants its leader, Zelimkhan Yandarbiev, to be prime minister and chairman of the State Defense Committee. Moscow has its own candidates for premier — either Ruslan Khasbulatov or Mayerbek Mugadiyev, former first deputy premier in President Dudayev’s government who now works for Gazprom. The opposition holds a strong hand since it is in de facto control of the republic, but its authority could be weakened if Moscow refused funding to keep the population fed and housed. Moscow also has some strong cards, therefore, and is likely to link ministerial seats to provision of economic assistance. (Moskovskie novosti, No. 39, September 29) Livshits seems to have been signaling the Chechen leaders that Moscow requires more concessions before it will provide economic aid.
PARLIAMENT AND PRESIDENT BATTLE OVER RUSSIA’S 1997 BUDGET.