A congress is taking place in Grozny today which brings together about one hundred representatives of the various parties and movements that form the Chechen resistance. Pride of place will go to opposition political leader Zelimkhan Yandarbiev and military leader Aslan Maskhadov, who are to appear openly on the streets of the Chechen capital for the first time since the city was seized by Russian troops in February 1995 (NTV, September 9)
The congress will discuss the formation of a coalition government for Chechnya. Kremlin leader Aleksandr Lebed, who has postponed his expected visit to Chechnya today, has welcomed the idea of the congress. Arguing that there are four major centers of real power in Chechnya today — the Yandarbiev-led government of Ichkeria, the Moscow-sponsored government of Doku Zavgaev, the regional military commanders, and the criminal underworld — Lebed has said that a coalition of the first two is necessary to counter the destabilizing force of the second two.
Yandarbiev is believed to be ready to accept between 10 and 14 representatives of Chechnya’s various political parties into a government to be led by himself and made up predominantly of his associates. Three portfolios would go to members of Zavgaev’s puppet government, though a post for Zavgaev himself is ruled out and he is not attending today’s meeting. Zavgaev commands some support in the north of the republic and, more important, still has supporters in Moscow. (NTV, Interfax, , September 9)
New Tensions Over Fate of Sevastopol.