Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 24

The Kremlin had drafted a plan for future relations with Chechnya even before Chechnya’s election campaign began, but is keeping its contents secret. Security Council secretary Ivan Rybkin, who is responsible for executing the program, refuses even to acknowledge its existence. (NTV, February 2) However, some broad outlines are beginning to emerge. Rybkin hinted at its thrust when he said Chechnya would have to rely mainly on its own resources in rebuilding its economy. (See Monitor, January 30) What Rybkin seems to have meant is that any economic aid from Russia will depend on how amenable the Chechen leaders are in upcoming negotiations. Moscow will try to attract Chechnya and bind it to Russia with a series of economic and administrative agreements that studiously avoid any mention of Chechnya’s political status.

Chechnya’s main interest in negotiating with Moscow is to receive financial compensation that could, at least partially, make up for the damage done to the republic’s economy by the Russian army. From all indications, Moscow’s strategy is to tempt Chechnya with crumbs, thereby dragging out the negotiation process — and the definition of Chechnya’s status — for as long as possible.

Since the future profitability of the Grozny oil refinery, and the date on which Azerbaijani oil starts flowing through Chechen pipelines, depends on Russia, the Kremlin will try to use this fact to make the Chechen authorities more tractable. Chechen president-elect Aslan Maskhadov is reported already to have assured Moscow that Chechnya will guarantee the unimpeded flow of oil through its territory. In return, the Russian Energy Ministry plans this month to open negotiations over the financing of repairs to the pipeline that passes through Chechnya. (Itar-Tass, February 1; NTV, February 2)

Meanwhile, Russian interior minister Anatoli Kulikov has praised the way in which an agreement signed between his ministry and the Chechen Interior Ministry is working, and says he hopes it will serve as model for future relations between Russia’s Prosecutor General’s Office, Justice Ministry, and Federal Security Service, and analogous structures in Chechnya. (Interfax, January 31) Likewise, Russian construction minister Yefim Basin has offered to cooperate with his Chechen counterparts in Chechnya’s post-war reconstruction — as long, Basin says, as the restoration is financed by the Chechen government. (Segodnya, January 31; Moskovsky komsomolets, February 1) But Moscow is playing hardball over Chechnya’s efforts to establish its own national bank. The Chechen authorities complain that Russia’s Central Bank has so far used its muscle to prevent Chechnya from establishing direct bilateral relations with Russia’s republics and regions. (ORT, February 3)

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