Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 9

A Russian government spokesman said yesterday that neither the government nor Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin had received any instructions to enter into negotiations with the Chechen fighters holding hostages in Dagestan. The same official was quoted as saying that Boris Yeltsin had ordered army General Mikhail Barsukov, head of the Russian federal security service, to direct all operations aimed at freeing the hostages. The remarks suggest that Yeltsin and his closest advisors are determined to head off a situation similar to that which developed during the June 1995 hostage crisis in Budennovsk. During that incident, Chechen rebels involved Chernomyrdin in a high-stakes public negotiating session which raised the prime minister’s political standing and permitted a peaceful resolution of the crisis. An initially promising peace process was then launched in Chechnya and Chernomyrdin was briefly elevated to the role of serious presidential contender and rival to Yeltsin.

In Chechnya, ousted Chechen president Dzhokhar Dudayev said January 11 in a newspaper interview that he had ordered the raid on Kizlyar. Although Dudayev said Kizlyar was but the first of many such attacks, he remained interested in negotiating an end to the hostilities. He named the withdrawal of all federal troops from Chechnya and oversight of a peace agreement by the United States and the U.N. as conditions for peace in the war-torn republic. (12)

Recriminations Swirl Over Crisis…