Russian deputy premier and interior minister Anatoly Kulikov has prepared a draft decree for President Yeltsin’s signature that would sharply restrict border crossings by citizens into Chechnya. Kulikov told a press conference in Moscow this week that such restrictions are necessary to reduce the incidence of kidnappings in the Northern Caucasus. He said that, in addition to civilian hostages, several dozen soldiers and Interior Ministry troops, two FSB officials, and two officials of the agency to combat organized crime are also being held. Kulikov called on foreign embassies to advise their citizens to avoid travel to Chechnya and adjoining regions. (Russian agencies, November 5)
If President Yeltsin signs the decree as drafted by Kulikov, the economic situation in Chechnya will get much worse. Many goods, most of them foodstuffs, come into Chechnya from the republics bordering it, and blockading the borders would lead to a sharp increase in prices in Chechnya. Most of Chechnya’s pensioners receive their pensions outside the republic’s boundaries, so Kulikov’s decree would prevent them from receiving their money. The economic problems that would ensue would give Grozny grounds for fresh accusations that Moscow is deliberately trying to destabilize the situation in the republic.
Residents of Khasavyurt Protest Crime on Chechen Border.