Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 2 Issue: 2

The chairman of the Russian State Duma’s defense committee, retired Colonel General Eduard Voro’bev, recently voiced his opinion that the Russian government should enter into settlement talks with Chechen rebel commanders who “are not criminals.” Aslan Maskhadov, the Chechen president, was identified as one leader with whom talks could be held. Rebel commander Shamil Basaev “and the like,” on the other hand, were ruled out as possible negotiation partners (Russian agencies, January 3).

Nikolai Fedorov, president of the autonomous republic of Chuvashia, recently termed the war in Chechnya “criminal” and “hopeless, with no end in sight.” The conflict, he believes, represents “a complete disaster.” In Fedorov’s opinion, the war is part of a process in which “a strongly centralized Bolshevik Russia is being built,” a development taking Russia away from democracy and back toward the darkest days of communist rule (Moscow Times, January 4).