Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 3 Issue: 22

The July 16 issue of Moskovskie Novosti contains an interview by the well-known journalist Sanobar Shermatova with Professor Ruslan Khasbulatov, a former speaker of the Russian parliament and an ethnic Chechen. Khasbulatov had drafted and published a “Peace Plan for the Chechen Republic” after which he had traveled to Istanbul to meet with Akhmed Zakaev, a representative of the Chechen separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov. Following this meeting, Khasbulatov had received an audiocassette bearing Maskhadov’s detailed reaction to his plan. “The key place in my plan,” Khasbulatov noted, “is occupied by a special status for Chechnya. A special status or status of internal autonomy presupposes a high degree of independence for the Chechen Republic in the sphere of international ties and internal policy.” Chechnya under this plan “would not be a subject of Russia but would, however, fall under Russian legislation on a number of important questions. Therefore the status would have a limited character, not permitting one to pose the question of the full independence of Chechnya or of its ‘departure’ from Russia which would be an infringement of the principle of territorial integrity.” With certain reservations, which are discussed by Khasbulatov, Maskhadov approved of this plan. “Solid” international organizations such as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe should also, Khasbulatov said, be involved in helping to implement the peace plan. “I know that in the halls of the [Russian] government,” Khasbulatov observed, “they say that Chechen policy has reached a dead-end, but I have no information about the opinion of the Kremlin.”