Publication: Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 122

Yesterday in Moscow, Security Council secretary and presidential envoy in Chechnya, Oleg Lobov said during a break in a cabinet session that the Russian side will continue the negotiations in Chechnya despite the bloody October 24 Chechen attack on a Russian troop column. Lobov said that the incident evidenced the need for more persistent negotiations toward a political settlement in Chechnya–a policy he said was authorized by president Boris Yeltsin. A marathon joint session of the joint Russian-Chechen political and military commissions October 25 resolved in principle to continue the talks. Russia’s nationalities minister and chief negotiator Vyacheslav Mikhailov portrayed the session as a resumption of the full-fledged negotiations, which had been interrupted earlier this month; and he praised the Chechens’ "constructive stand" and their alleged "keen interest" in his proposals.

Mikhailov officially proposed a draft document on power sharing which would give Chechnya a status in the Russian Federation comparable to that of Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, and Yakutia (Sakha). And he proposed inviting "consultants" from those republics to join the drafting work of the documents for Chechnya. He also restated Moscow’s wish that its Chechen collaborators be included in the negotiations. But Chechen chief negotiators Aslan Maskhadov and Khodzhakhmed Yarikhanov conditioned resumption of the official negotiating process on the arrival of international observers and peacekeepers in order to guarantee against Russian attacks on Chechen localities and civilians. (4)

Although Mikhailov is a moderate among Russian officials, his insistence that all is well with the negotiations appears designed primarily for foreign consumption, especially perhaps for the Council of Europe which has just sent the first of an expected series of fact-finding delegations to Moscow. The CE is considering admitting Russia in the next few months, but among its conditions is progress toward a peaceful negotiated settlement in Chechnya. As regards the content of his proposals, Mikhailov almost certainly knows that the Dudayev side, in tune with many ordinary Chechens, would prefer to face a resumption of hostilities rather than accept the status envisaged by Mikhailov’s draft.

OSCE Prevented from Functioning.