On May 19, President Yeltsinvetoed a resolution, passed by the Duma in April, which called on Moscow tobegin “immediate and unconditional peace talks” with the Chechens, Itar-Tasssaid. Yeltsin’s aides said he believed that such talks would “only prolong the warand result in new victims.” The veto–which effectively undercut Prime MinisterChernomyrdin’s suggestion May 17 that he was prepared for talks–was promptlysupported by Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev, and by Sergei Shakhrai, theDeputy Prime Minister widely believed to be behind the hard-line approach inChechnya. But on May 20, Itar-Tass reported, Yeltsin directed Chernomyrdin tofind a peaceful solution to the Chechen crisis, thus reversing course and putting allthree of his officials in a politically difficult position.
Meanwhile, the Russian news service said, Chechen leader DzhokharDudayev rejected any talks with the Moscow-installed local authorities. It wouldbe “absurd,” he said, to talk with those “backed by Russian bayonets.”
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