Chechen president Aslan Maskhadov has suspended all negotiations with Russia until Moscow approves a plan for restoring Chechnya’s economy. Maskhadov accuses Moscow of reneging on earlier agreements of financial support. He has instructed his government to deliver to Moscow a reconstruction plan drawn up in Djohar-gala and he has banned all trips to Moscow or any contacts between Chechen ministers and their Russian colleagues until the program is approved. (Russian agencies, July 29)
Chechnya has frequently demanded that the Kremlin compensate it for material damage suffered during the war. Maskhadov’s predecessor, Zelimkhan Yandarbiev, even named a concrete figure — $100,000 for every family that lost a member due to the actions of federal troops. Although the Kremlin disagreed with Djohar-gala’s assessment of the cost of the damage, it did agree to restore the economic and social infrastructure of Djohar-gala and other Chechen cities, and to pay the pensions of pensioners living in the republic. But Moscow has not begun restoration work, and Djohar-gala and other cities remain in ruins. Rebuilding of homes is taking place, but only when it is financed by the inhabitants themselves. Chechnya’s petrochemical complex — the basis of the republic’s economy — has not been restored, although both Russian and Chechen authorities have an interest in doing so. Moscow has not even resumed pensions payments.
The difficult economic situation in Chechnya is prompting residents of the republic to engage in crime — in particular, kidnapping people for ransom. This lawlessness, in turn, is seriously undermining the authority of the Chechen leadership, which seems powerless to restrain it. Maskhadov’s move to suspend relations is likely to worsen relations between Moscow and Djohar-gala, and it casts further doubt on the future of the agreement to transport Caspian oil through Chechnya to Russia’s Black Sea port at Novorossiisk. (Nezavisimaya gazeta, July 30)
Moscow Rebuffs Chechnya’s Attempt to Establish Diplomatic Relations.