Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 134

Russian Interior Minister Vladimir Rushailo is on an official visit to the North Caucasus region, where he met yesterday with Stavropol Governor Aleksandr Chernogorov and Kabardino-Balkaria President Valery Kokov, and with Ingushetian President Ruslan Aushev and North Ossetian President Aleksandr Dzasokhov. The Russian interior minister is also scheduled to visit areas bordering Chechnya and inspect how the border is being guarded. Rushailo did not hide that the main goal of his trip is the creation of war-ready units of internal troops in the border areas, which will be able to confront armed formations of Chechen guerrillas not under the control of the authorities in Djohar. Rushailo repeated that Moscow will carry out preventative strikes on Chechen guerrilla formations (NTV, RTR, ORT, July 12).

Despite Moscow’s hard line in relation to the rebel Chechen guerrilla groups, preparations continue for the planned meeting between Russian President Boris Yeltsin and Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov. Russian Nationalities Minister Vyacheslav Mikhailov made this clear in a statement yesterday, although he did not indicate when the meeting will take place. It is also not clear whether the working group set up to prepare the meeting is working successfully or whether there have been snags (NTV, RTR, ORT, July 12).

Taken together, the attempts to fortify the border with Chechnya and the continuing preparations for the meeting between the two presidents appear to be more of a propaganda effort than real work. The planned meeting between the Russian and Chechen presidents–which Maskhadov has predicted will be “historic”–has been announced as imminent numerous times over the last three months, but then put off without any explanation from either side. During this same period, Moscow has been working to fortify the border with Chechnya and has even carried out pre-emptive strikes against Chechen guerrillas, who have nonetheless remained highly active.