Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 165

Russian security supremo Aleksandr Lebed was in Chechnya again yesterday to meet with Chechen chief-of-staff Aslan Maskhadov and other leaders in the village of Novye Atagi some 25 km (15 miles) south of the capital Grozny. The meeting was held to iron out problems in implementing the peace accords signed by Lebed and Maskhadov on August 31. Among other steps, the two sides yesterday exchanged lists of prisoners-of-war. Lebed said federal forces would not complete their withdrawal from Chechnya, scheduled to begin on Sunday, until all POWs had been exchanged, and stressed that no ransom money would be paid.

After the talks, Lebed said there had been agreement that more joint patrols should be deployed in Grozny and new provisional bodies set up to maintain order in the city. Lebed added that he and Maskhadov had agreed to make Grozny a demilitarized zone in which only the members of the joint patrols would be allowed to carry guns.

The first test of the accords is expected today, the fifth anniversary of Chechnya’s declaration of independence, which is not recognized by Russia. Maskhadov is reported to have acceded to Lebed’s request that celebrations be low-key and confined to religious ceremonies, in order not to fuel the fire of those members of the Russian political elite who are claiming that the peace accords represent a capitulation by Moscow to the Chechen resistance. (Interfax, Reuters, September 5)

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