LEBED HOPING FOR A "THIRD FORCE" IN CHECHNYA.
Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 170
Aleksandr Lebed has not had a good week. He has come under fire from all sides for "capitulating" to the Chechen opposition. Even those Russian newspapers that approve of the ceasefire are full of gloomy predictions that, no matter how much money Moscow puts into reconstruction, the Chechen population will vote at the end of five years to secede. Russia’s justice minister and his team of legal experts poured scorn on the Khasavyurt accords, calling them juridically illiterate and saying Lebed was too ignorant to understand their significance. Even the Chechen opposition has disappointed Lebed: the congress of opposition parties that met in Grozny at the beginning of the week failed to agree on the composition of an interim coalition government. Lebed reacted emotionally, calling the forum "a fruitless event with zero results." The main question, according to Lebed, is not the distribution of posts in a future government, but "who is to receive the money for rebuilding Chechnya’s economy." (Kommersant-daily, September 12) Since the Chechen opposition does not recognize the pro-Moscow government of Doku Zavgaev, and Moscow is ceasing to regard Zavgaev as a viable leader but still refuses to recognize the leader of the Chechen opposition, Zelimkhan Yandarbiev, Lebed had pinned his hopes on the emergence of a "third force." This has not yet materialized. Ruslan Khasbulatov is trying to present himself as a compromise candidate, but Lebed has not so far expressed his preference. Meanwhile, Yandarbiev reportedly told OSCE mission chief Tim Guldimann on September 11 that he hopes to reach agreement on a coalition government "within the next two-three days." (Interfax, September 12)
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