Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 95

Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov expressed his disapproval of the State Duma’s attempt to impeach President Boris Yeltsin for his role in military actions against Chechnya. According to Maskhadov, Russian society as a whole is responsible for the war, including the Duma deputies. Maskhadov said that the impeachment attempt was above all politically motivated, and that he does not want Chechnya to become “small change” in a political game (NTV, May 15).

It should be noted that Chechen Vice Premier Kazbek Makhashev earlier said that the resignation of the Yevgeny Primakov cabinet would not affect the planned meeting between Maskhadov and Yeltsin. Despite the fact that Primakov was replaced by Sergei Stepashin, a man viewed in Chechnya as one of the key players in the war against the republic, Maskhadov views his planned meeting with Yeltsin as an historic event in relations between Russia and Chechnya. This, apparently, has forced him to close his eyes to the “old sins” of his negotiating partners (see the Monitor, April 30). The Chechen opposition, however, is likely to use Maskhadov’s broadmindedness against him, and accuse him of supporting those guilty of genocide against the Chechen people.

Chechen fighters, meanwhile, have again shown that the authorities in the regions bordering Chechnya are powerless to do anything against them. On May 13 in the Mozdok region of North Ossetia, there was an attack on a militia patrol. Two policemen were injured and the bandits escaped (Kommersant, May 14). The regions bordering Chechnya are supposed be part of a “security zone” under the control of the power ministries, which are supposed to be in a constant state of readiness in this region. This was supposed to be demonstrated at the end of April in a joint training exercise of forces from the Interior Ministry, Federal Security Service and the army. The officers involved in the exercise were supposed to train groups to intercept and neutralize terrorists along the border with Chechnya. But just two weeks after the exercise ended, Chechen fighters were able to demonstrate that they were ineffective. It is interesting to note that these training exercises were planned by Sergei Stepashin, who was then still interior minister. At the end of April, Stepashin inspected the border between Stavropol and Chechnya, and said that Interior Ministry forces were capable of controlling the border with Chechnya (see the Monitor, April 30).