The Chechen State Council, the highest political authority of the resistance, announced yesterday that it had forbidden its forces from taking any action against Russian president Boris Yeltsin if he visits Chechnya, or against any other Russian officials until their possible role in the slaying of President Djohar Dudaev is clarified. The Council also warned that elements in the Russian military may plan to take advantage of a presidential visit to Chechnya in order to stage an assassination attempt against Yeltsin for their own political goals. The first part of the Council’s statement would seem to disavow commander Shamil Basaev’s May 14 televised threat to retaliate against Yeltsin for the killing of tens of thousands of Chechen civilians. The chief of the OSCE’s mission to Chechnya, Swiss diplomat Tim Guldimann, has been holding talks for the last several days with Zelimkhan Yandarbiev and other Chechen resistance leaders in the southern highlands in an effort to promote political negotiations with Moscow.
In Moscow, Yeltsin’s electoral campaign manager and former chief of staff Sergei Filatov is one of the few proponents of the president’s visit to Chechnya, evidently realizing its political advantages. The security agencies strongly oppose the visit, with internal affairs minister Anatoly Kulikov warning daily against the idea. Yeltsin is embarking today on an electoral campaign tour of Siberia, thus further delaying the increasingly hypothetical visit to Chechnya. The collaborationist Grozny authorities for their part are pleading for the visit, for which they are preparing an elaborate Soviet-style program. (Russian and Western agencies, May 16 & 17)
Lebed: Looking Anew at NATO.