Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 111

Moscow appears divided on whether or not to abide by the armistice agreement’s key provision which cancels the June 16 election to a Chechen collaborationist legislature. The Moscow-installed Grozny authorities announced yesterday that, despite the agreement, they would hold the election as originally scheduled.

Russian prime minister Viktor Chernomyrdin said that the Russian delegation "had to sign the protocol" in the interest of peace, but cast doubt on Moscow’s intentions by adding that the election was "an internal Chechen matter" and "up to Chechnya’s Supreme Soviet". Russia’s chief delegate to the armistice talks admitted that holding the election would "formally run counter to the agreements reached" (and which he himself signed) but that "Chechnya’s people" allegedly want the election and this "must not be ignored."

Such statements seem to signal that Moscow may hide behind its Grozny appointees in violating the Nazran agreement. On the other hand Sergei Stepashin, Russia’s deputy chief delegate to the talks, publicly urged the Grozny authorities not to hold the election; as did Yeltsin’s intellectually influential but politically powerless adviser Emil Pain.

Guldimann has said repeatedly that conditions for holding a free and fair election are absent and that the December 1995 election of Doku Zavgaev as Chechnya’s "head" was undemocratic. In one possible gauge of Chechen public opinion, the resistance leaders were emotionally cheered in villages all along their way back from Nazran, as they had been last week on their way back from Moscow. (Itar-Tass, NTV, June 11)

…Will Keep Some Troops There.