Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 3 Issue: 31

Citing a report that had appeared in the newspaper Kommersant, the website wrote on October 17: “In Switzerland, in approximately two weeks’ time, new negotiations of a deputy of the Duma with representatives of Aslan Maskhadov will take place…. The deputy of the State Duma, Aslambek Aslakhanov, and the representative of Ichkeria, Akhmed Zakaev, will take part. The sides will seek to find a common language concerning conditions acceptable to the federal center. Zakaev and Aslakhanov intend to meet one-on-one in order to ‘seriously to discuss the conditions which could lead to negotiations.'” Also taking part in the negotiations, went on, would be Ivan Rybkin, a former secretary of the Russian Security Council and speaker of the Duma, and Ruslan Khasbulatov, a former speaker of the RSFSR Supreme Soviet. Aslakhanov, a retired general in the MVD, was quoted as maintaining that negotiations must be held with Aslan Maskhadov and his representatives since “the warring side listens to him.” What Maskhadov needs to do now, Aslakhanov emphasized, is “to condemn and distance himself from the terrorists,” since that is a requirement laid down by President Putin. If Maskhadov declines to do this, then Aslakhanov warned, he is prepared to resort to a “reserve variant”–namely, negotiations with the separatist parliament of Ichkeria elected in 1997. Aslakhanov, noted, presently occupies the key post of deputy chair of the commission of the State Duma for facilitating political regulation and the observance of human rights in the Chechen Republic. It is also not excluded, the website added, that Aslakhanov “has a certain private assignment from the Kremlin to plumb the depths of compromise the leaders of Ichkeria are prepared to accept.”