Visiting Voronezh Oblast south of Moscow yesterday, Prime Minister Sergei Kirienko said he shared the concern of “the four” over the situation in Chechnya and the Northern Caucasus. Kirienko said he would happily issue “a hundred appeals, if it would do any good.” Chechnya’s problems, Kirienko said, have taken years to build up and “can’t be solved overnight by issuing letters and appeals.” (RTR, July 28) A government spokesman was equally dismissive. He said the “belated” appeal came two weeks late. Two weeks ago, he asserted, following Prime Minister Sergei Kirienko’s trip to Dagestan–his first visit to the provinces since becoming prime minister–the cabinet of ministers decided both to prioritize the issue of the North Caucasus and to assume responsibility for it from the Security Council. (RTR, July 28)
The government is pinning many hopes on the meeting, promised for this week, between Prime Minister Kirienko and Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov. Russian Television reported yesterday that, all over Russia, “telephones were buzzing” as regional governors called one another to discuss the “letter of the four” and its appeal to regional governors to step up contacts with Chechnya. Tatarstan’s President Shaimiev–the only one of the “four” who, according to Ayatskov, really has Chechnya’s interests at heart–called yesterday for economic assistance for the breakaway republic. “Everything should be done,” he said, “to make Russia attractive for the Chechen population. What is happening at present is the opposite: They are being pushed away to the sidelines.” (RTR, July 28)
POLITICAL COALITIONS BEGIN TO EMERGE FROM THE SHADOWS.