Publication: Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 144

Ruslan Khasbulatov, the former chairman of Russia’s parliament and arch enemy of Yeltsin, now used by Moscow as a peacemaker in his native republic, is expected to run for the post of "head of the republic" in Chechnya’s December 17 elections. In Grozny on November 27, Khasbulatov’s party unveiled his plan for Chechnya’s political status, and a draft treaty on the separation of powers between Chechnya and the Federation. Its salient points are: Russian citizenship and the ruble to remain valid in Chechnya; demilitarization of the republic (entailing withdrawal of Russian troops); Chechnya’s borders to be guarded jointly by Russian and Chechen units; Russia to pay compensation to Chechnya for the "material, moral, and ecological damages inflicted;" Chechnya to establish consulates in foreign countries, and to enjoy the right of representation in international organizations separately from Russia. In announcing the plan, Khasbulatov’s party cited its leader’s adage that the many Chechens killed in the war died "not for Dudayev but for their people," and have won for Chechnya the right to a large measure of self-rule. (9)

No republic within the Russian Federation enjoys such rights. Granting them to Chechnya would set a precedent apt to inspire others to demand a similar status. The power-sharing treaty between the federal center and Tatarstan has often been cited as a possible model for the most far-reaching autonomy available at present; but Khasbulatov’s plan for Chechnya goes far beyond that. By authorizing him as a peacemaker, the Kremlin had from the outset taken a conscious risk: as Federation Council chairman Vladimir Shumeiko commented only a few days ago, Khasbulatov had the "wrong attitude" in Russian politics (i.e. opposing Yeltsin) but the "right attitude" on Chechnya by wanting to keep it in Russia, and that qualified him for his role there. Now the Kremlin will undoubtedly see him differently. His plan stands no chance of acceptance by Moscow, which must now place all its bets on its man Doku Zavgayev and force his election at any cost in sacrificed credibility.

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