Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov has categorically denied any Chechen participation in last week’s ambush of a Russian military convoy in North Ossetia in which five Russian servicemen, including a senior officer of the General Staff, were killed (see the Monitor, April 17). Maskhadov said disgruntled Russian servicemen may have been responsible for the attack. Maskhadov, who himself served in the Soviet army, said the unit may have tried to create a diversion because it feared it was about to be subjected to an inspection by its high-ranking visitors. (NTV, April 18)
That almost all the recent attacks on Russian servicemen have taken place near the Chechen border suggests that Maskhadov’s assertion should be taken with a grain of salt. Chechen Deputy Premier Kazbek Makhashev was more cautious in his assessment. He indicted “forces who have no interest in stabilizing the situation in the North Caucasus” and said the ambush seemed to have been timed to coincide with the opening of talks between Moscow and Djohar on joint anti-crime and antiterrorism efforts.
Russia’s acting Deputy Premier Ivan Rybkin repeated his argument that instability in the North Caucasus is a direct consequence of the dire economic situation in the region and, above all, in Chechnya. Rybkin said he will soon present President Yeltsin with his recommendations on stabilizing the situation in the region. (RTR, April 19)
WESTERN-ORIENTED TARASIUK APPOINTED FOREIGN MINISTER OF UKRAINE.