It is likely that Moscow had foreseen Grozny’s reluctance to sign the draft treaty and Chechnya’s readiness to pressure its former colonial power. It is hardly a coincidence that, a day before the beginning of this latest round of Russian-Chechen negotiations, a secret meeting on the construction of an oil pipeline bypassing Chechnya took place at Russia’s Fuel and Energy Ministry under the chairmanship of its first deputy minister, Viktor Ott. (Kommersant-daily, September 25)
The decision on construction of a pipeline bypassing Chechnya was announced by Russian first deputy prime minister Boris Nemtsov on September 15. It proposes that the 288-kilometer-long bypass section of the Baku-Novorossiisk pipeline begin near the Dagestani city of Khasavyurt, an area settled by Akin Chechens, and end in the village of Terskaya, in Stavropol krai. According to the Fuel and Energy Ministry’s preliminary assessments, construction of the line will cost $220 million and will take several months. But, according to Itogi magazine, several experts estimate the real costs to be significantly higher than the Ministry is predicting. They put the price tag at about $300 million. (Itogi, September 23)
"Kommersant-daily" reports that participants of the meeting at the Fuel and Energy Ministry discussed problems related both to the security of the bypass pipeline to minimizing production costs. Right after the meeting concluded, Ott went off to make a report to First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov. (Kommersant-daily, September 25)
However, it will be even more difficult to guarantee the security of the pipeline in the Khasavyurt district of Dagestan, through which the proposed bypass pipeline is to pass, than it would be in Chechnya. There, at least, Chechen president Aslan Maskhadov and Khodzhakhmed Yarikhanov, the head of Chechnya’s Southern Oil Company, are undoubtedly interested in making the pipeline function productively.
Moreover, terrorist acts take place nearly every day in the Khasavyurt district. In the opinion Magomet Tolboev, the secretary of Dagestan’s Security Council, instability in this region is explained by the fact that the Akin Chechens, who live there, maintain close ties to Chechen field commanders — and are particularly friendly with the Chechen radicals. Basyr Dadaev, chairman of the Akin Chechens’ National Council, has confirmed to the Monitor’s correspondent that Zelimkhan Yandarbiev and Salman Raduev enjoy the greatest popularity among the Akins. Today, the fighters of Raduev’s "Army of General Dudaev" can move about freely in the district. (See the Monitor, September 2, and Prism, July 25)
"The General Doth Protest too Muche."