Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 191

Moscow believed that an agreement had been reached at the Russian-Chechen talks in Dagomys last week by which Grozny’s representatives would be present on October 13 when the Russian Duma examined the alternative versions of the Russian-Chechen treaty proposed by Moscow and Grozny. Yesterday, however, Chechen authorities abruptly canceled the delegation’s planned visit to Moscow. Presidential press spokesman Kazbek Khadzhiev announced that "Chechnya does not intend to defend its policies like a whipping boy; the mood of the people running the Duma is well known." According to Russian television, the decision marks a new stage in the worsening of relations between Moscow and Grozny. (NTV, October 13)

However, Chechen first deputy prime minister Movladi Udugov told the Monitor in a telephone interview that this interpretation is unduly pessimistic. According to Udugov, Grozny did not promise — either at the talks in Dagomys or in President Aslan Maskhadov’s meeting with Russian Security Council secretary Ivan Rybkin — to send its representatives to the Duma hearings; it promised only "to think over Moscow’s interesting proposal." In the end, Udugov says, Maskhadov decided to "be cautious" and not to send representatives to the Duma. In Udugov’s opinion, Chechnya’s representatives might have found themselves in an ambiguous situation had they attended the Duma session, or, at the least, unscrupulous Russian politicians and journalists might have presented them in such a light. Udugov assured the Monitor that Grozny is ready to discuss its version of the treaty with Moscow publicly, at any level, including at the parliamentary level, so long as discussions are conducted on the basis of parity. Udugov said Grozny would, for example, be willing to take part in a roundtable on Russian television, with the participation of Russian parliamentarians and specialists on international affairs.

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