Russian Security Council secretary Aleksandr Lebed met with Viktor Chernomyrdin on September 18 to brief the prime minister on the results of his meetings with Chechen leaders the day before. The two men focused on the problem of forcibly held persons in Chechnya and the withdrawal of federal troops from the republic. (RTR, September 18) "Everything is going as it should. It’s hard, but the problem is too complicated to be solved simply or easily," Chernomyrdin said after the meeting, evasively assessing the results of Lebed’s latest trip to Chechnya. (NTV, September 18)
President Boris Yeltsin met on September 18 with Anatoly Chubais; according to a statement issued after that meeting, the president told his chief-of-staff that he was, "on the whole," satisfied with the joint efforts of the government, the Security Council and the presidential staff to settle the Chechen conflict. (Interfax, September 18)
But Lebed seems far from confident he will be able to complete his mission successfully. Returning to Moscow from Chechnya, Lebed accused the federal authorities as a whole of not wanting to settle the Chechen crisis. He told journalists traveling with him that "all other state officials" are taking "a very strange position; they don’t say how they would [settle the Chechen crisis themselves], all they do is criticize. They simply reject anything you do." (NTV, September 18)
His complaint is reminiscent of accusations by Russian negotiators during earlier peace talks. During the negotiations that took place in Grozny in the summer of 1995, the deputy head of the Russian delegation, Arkady Volsky, repeatedly complained that a Moscow "war party" was trying to disrupt the peace process. Volsky did not name names, and Lebed has so far fingered only Interior Minister Anatoly Kulikov. But the extraordinary statement issued by the Security Council on September 17, which accused "certain members" of the presidential administration of trying to strip Lebed of some of his powers, seems to have been aimed at presidential chief-of-staff Chubais and his team of Kremlin aides. (Specifically, Lebed was complaining about attempts to transfer supervision of the commission for awarding senior military ranks from his Security Council to the Defense Council, which so far exists only on paper.) And the Democratic Party of Russia, which is led by Lebed’s close ally Sergei Glazyev, came out this week with an striking statement of its own, accusing Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and Communist party leader Gennady Zyuganov of conspiring to discredit Lebed and his Chechnya peace initiatives and of plotting a "creeping coup" while Yeltsin is hospitalized. (Izvestiya, September 18) The purpose of such statements seems to be to rally public opinion behind Lebed and his initiatives.
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