President Putin’s chief spokesman for issues relating to Chechnya, Sergei Yastrzhembsky, recently underscored that Chechnya is not to be accorded special status once it is fully reincorporated back into Russia. “I think that today the theme of special rights for subjects of the federation,” he affirmed, “has no perspective… It is necessary to strengthen the vertical of state power… Therefore the theme of ‘special-ness,’ fortunately, is now closed for the state.” Yastrzhembsky commented that other Russian autonomous republics (headed by presidents) like Tatarstan and Bashkortostan would also lose the special status which they had achieved through negotiations with the Yeltsin leadership (Strana.ru, December 19).
Retired General Anatoly Kulikov, former head of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs and now chairman of the Russian State Duma’s Subcommittee for the Struggle with Terrorism, has revealed that a plan exists to designate the city of Grozny (Djohar) “a city of federal subordination.” “This,” he said, “will allow the Russian-language populace to return to Grozny and to set about restoring the oil-processing sphere.” The Chechen capital would be moved to another city (presumably Gudermes). Kulikov also reported that the State Duma is preparing a Law on Emergency Rule for use in Chechnya. The draft law is to be submitted to the Duma for its second and third reading in January 2001 (Russian agencies, December 19).
In mid-December, members of the Council of Cossack Officers, representing Don, Kuban and Terek Cossacks, met in Rostov-on-Don and discussed ways in which Cossack families could be returned to three northern districts of Chechnya (Glasnost-Caucasus News Service, December 17). General Viktor Kazantsev, Plenipotentiary Presidential Representative for the Southern Federal District, related in an interview with the publication Vek what he had said to the assembled Cossacks: “I said, ‘Respected Cossacks, three districts of Chechnya-Tersky [Naursky], Shelkovsky, and Nadterechnyi–have always belonged to the Cossacks. Go, restore them, take possession of them anew!'” But, Kazantsev complained, most Cossacks have to date not been eager to do so: “No, they don’t go there. Many for the time being are wavering, playing a waiting game” (Vek, December 27).