Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 183

Some progress toward resolving the conflict appeared to have been made last night, when Maskhadov met for over two hours with Russian deputy prime minister Ramazan Abdulatipov at the residence of President Ruslan Aushev in neighboring Ingushetia. Abdulatipov said afterwards that the Russian president’s plenipotentiary representation in Chechnya would soon be able to resume his work in Grozny, and that Maskhadov had assured him that he would do everything possible to settle the incident. (RTR, October 1) But the negotiations with Maskhadov, which took place on Abdulatipov’s personal initiative, elicited an ambiguous reaction in Moscow, where Security Council secretary Ivan Rybkin stated that Abdulatipov did not have the authority to negotiate with Maskhadov. It seems that Rybkin, for one, is in no hurry to forgive and forget. ("Ekho Moskvy," October 1)

Moreover, Rybkin used the incident to accuse Maskhadov of losing control over the situation in the republic. Blaming Arsanov for the expulsion order, Rybkin said: "The tail is wagging the dog. If President Maskhadov cannot control his vice-president, how can we tell who is really running things in Chechnya?" ("Ekho Moskvy," October 1) Arsanov, who worked before the war as a captain in Grozny’s traffic police, is seen by Moscow’s as one of Chechnya’s most radical and odious politicians. After Moscow condemned the public executions in Grozny, Arsanov said that Russian leaders found guilty of genocide against the Chechen people would be publicly shot. The vice-president has also been accused of complicity in kidnapping people for ransom. After the release in August of the NTV film crew, the leadership of that television network made such charges. The fact that all of the journalists were taken hostage in the same place, near the village of Goragorsk, which is in Arsanov’s "zone of influence," is seen as indirect confirmation. Arsanov has even been accused of kidnappings by his Chechen comrades. During the presidential campaign in Chechnya, the head of Chechnya’s Department of National Security, Abu Movsaev, who supported presidential candidate Shamil Basaev, made the accusations, which Arsanov did not attempt to refute.

There is as yet no clear explanation of what motivated Maskhadov to choose such a controversial figure as his vice-president. One plausible reason involves the regional factor, which is of enormous importance in contemporary Chechen politics. Maskhadov’s main competitors in the presidential elections in January were Basaev and former president Yandarbiev — both of whom come from the mountains of Chechnya. This may have forced Maskhadov, who comes from the lowlands, to seek a running mate from the mountains. Of the influential field commanders who were highlanders, only Arsanov agreed to run with Maskhadov.

Chubais Defends Ex-Privatization Chief.