Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 22

Chechnya’s new president, Aslan Maskhadov, will be inaugurated on February 10. Russian prime minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, Security Council secretary Ivan Rybkin, and ex-Security Council secretary Aleksandr Lebed have all been invited to attend the festivities in Djokar-Ghala, as Grozny is now officially called. Foreign invitees include representatives of the leadership and parliaments of Japan, South Korea, and the Islamic Arab nations. (Interfax, NTV, January 30) The inclusion of representatives from Japan and South Korea came as a surprise. Ruslan Kutaev, who is organizing the event, told journalists that the Chechen authorities have "serious contacts" with the two countries. (Interfax, NTV, January 30)

So far, Russian premier Chernomyrdin has dodged the question of whether he will attend the inauguration, saying yesterday that he will "think about it." But it seems unlikely Chernomyrdin will go to Chechnya. The prime minister understands quite well that the new Chechen president’s inaugural address will include a declaration of Chechen independence and that, if Chernomyrdin attends the ceremony, he could find himself in an awkward situation. The other Russian invitees will probably attend. The presence of lower-ranking officials will not be seen by the world community as de facto recognition by the Kremlin of Chechen independence.

Varied Russian Reaction to Council of Europe Criticism.