Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 15

"Certain forces are trying to play the Cossack card to disrupt the elections in Chechnya-Ichkeria," warns Aslan Maskhadov, one of the leading candidates for Chechnya’s presidency. Maskhadov offered to cooperate with the leaders of the North Caucasus republics to avert clashes between Chechens and Cossacks. (Nezavisimaya gazeta, January 22) Maskhadov thinks there may soon be provocations in the Cossack-inhabited Naursky and Shelkovsky districts of northern Chechnya. "Cossack assemblies are being held there… The aim is to create a confrontation and then to say: ‘How can an election be held under such conditions?’" Maskhadov said. (Nezavisimaya gazeta, January 18)

The ataman of the Terek Cossack Host, Aleksandr Voloshin, told the Monitor that local Cossacks will refuse to recognize the results of the elections in Naursky and Shelkovsky districts. Local residents are calling for the two districts to be transferred to Russia proper. Voloshin thinks this should not be done by force, but he does not rule out the possibility that individual Cossack bands may make armed raids into the area. "The Cossacks who live in purely Russian areas are especially militant. It is no secret that the Cossacks are well-armed, and it is quite probable that some of them will brave the risk to rescue their fellow-Cossacks in Chechnya. Cossacks from the national republics are more cautious. They understand that an armed campaign against the Chechens could result in a fight with the other peoples of the Northern Caucasus as well," Voloshin told the Monitor.

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