President Boris Yeltsin yesterday appointed Lt. General Vyacheslav Tikhomirov commander-in-chief of Russia’s combined forces in Chechnya. Tikhomirov, 50, was until yesterday deputy commander of the North Caucasus military district. He fought in Chechnya last year. Tikhomirov replaces Lt. General Anatoly Shkirko, promoted yesterday to deputy minister of internal affairs and commander of that ministry’s troops. (11) Shkirko lasted less than three months as commander-in-chief in Chechnya. (His predecessor, MVD Lt. General Anatoly Romanov, was gravely injured in a bomb attack in Grozny last October and has since been in a coma.)
Military officials said the appointment of Tikhomirov, an army officer, to the top post in Chechnya presaged an intensification of combat operations. (12) Defense Minister Pavel Grachev is known to advocate resumption of offensive military action. Concern over possible renewed large-scale military action was voiced yesterday by German foreign minister Klaus Kinkel, who called for an immediate cease-fire agreement and resumption of political negotiations under OSCE mediation. (13) Also yesterday, a group of newly elected democratic deputies to the Duma announced that it had contacted Chechen president Dzhokhar Dudayev and agreed to meet with him in Chechnya for talks on a political settlement. Konstantin Borovoi of the Economic Freedom Party, speaking at a news conference yesterday on behalf of the deputies, said Dudayev must be dealt with as a legitimate president and the war in Chechnya was no longer a Russian internal affair. (14)
South Korea Offers Aid to Russia.