Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 238

An international conference on Chechnya opened over the weekend in Kazan, the capital of Tatarstan. (Itar-Tass, December 20) This is the fourth conference under the Hague Initiative. It is being chaired by President Mintimer Shaimiev and attended by Chechen president Aslan Maskhadov. Shaimiev said talks between Russia and Chechnya are at a standstill and that the aim of the conference is to find new ways of stimulating dialogue. Russian Security Council secretary Ivan Rybkin attended the first day of the conference, but left early amid speculation that he and Maskhadov had failed to agree; this speculation was promptly denied by the Kremlin.

In Maskhadov’s absence, supporters of Chechen field commander Salman Raduev held a rally in Grozny at which they expressed no confidence in the president’s policies and demanded the resignation of his government. (RTR, Itar-Tass, December 20) The rally demanded also that Maskhadov stop "flirting" with the Russian government and said that, until Russia recognizes Chechnya’s independence, the Chechen government should cut all links with Moscow. Raduev read out at the rally the verdict passed down last week by the High Shariah Court of the Caucasus, condemning President Yeltsin to death.

Russian Minister of Emergencies Sergei Shoigu visited Chechnya last week and gave a press conference in Grozny prior to his departure. (NTV, December 15) Shoigu said his chief concern was radioactive waste stored in the republic. The waste was brought in the early 1970s to Chechnya’s Radon dump from all over southern Russia. When war broke out in 1994, specialists lost control over it, and there are fears that some of it may have been stolen. Shoigu reached an agreement with President Maskhadov that the federal Emergencies Ministry will cooperate with its Chechen counterpart to locate the waste and restore security at the Radon plant, situated 15 km from Grozny.

Ukrainian Parliament Votes to Strip Crimean Parliament of Cherished Powers.