Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 229

Speaking to journalists last week, Russian Security Council secretary Ivan Rybkin refused to support any of Chechnya’s presidential candidates, saying that the elections are Chechnya’s internal affair. Rybkin did, however, concede that Moscow is far from indifferent to the outcome. (Nezavisimaya gazeta, December 7) It is clear that, moreover, that of the two leading candidates Moscow would much prefer Maskhadov. "The separatist leaders fall into two main groups: the moderates, with whom one can and must negotiate, and the radicals, who will not listen to any arguments. Aslan Maskhadov has proven himself a moderate, reasonable politician," Vladimir Zorin, chairman of the State Duma’s committee on international relations, told Monitor. (Zorin met with Maskhadov several times during negotiations in the summers of 1995 and 1996.) In Moscow’s opinion, Chechen president Zelimkhan Yandarbiev belongs to the radical faction. Yandarbiev is the main force behind the creation of a strict Islamic state in Chechnya and has the tacit support of the Chechen clergy. (See Monitor, December 5)

Russian Miners’ Strike Entering Second Week.