According to the newspaper Segodnya, rumors are rife in Chechnya that President Aslan Maskhadov may not return from his trip to the U.S. The newspaper speculates that the rumors are being fueled by Maskhadov’s desire to test the resolve of the Chechen parliament, which has thrice refused to grant him extraordinary powers comparable to those enjoyed by late president Djohar Dudaev. (Segodnya, November 11)
Maskhadov might also be considering delaying his return in an attempt to place Shamil Basaev — who is running the Chechen government in his absence — in a bad light and to persuade parliament of the need to give the president additional powers. The previously concealed rift between Maskhadov and Basaev has come into the open for the first time, with Basaev calling Maskhadov’s decision to reorganize the Southern Oil Company and remove its head, Khozh-Akhmed Yarikhanov, a "mistake."
Events might not turn out as Maskhadov expects, however. The newspaper suggests that, if parliament agreed to give Maskhadov additional powers while he was still out of the country, they might be snatched up by Basaev or by Vice President Vakha Arsanov and used to turn Maskhadov into a real "president-in-exile." Maskhadov, who had been in Turkey and is now visiting the U.S., is lobbying foreign governments to recognize Chechnya as an independent state. Traveling with Maskhadov is Khozh-Akhmed Nukhaev, president of the corporation "Caucasus Common Market" (Ichkeria). (For details, see Monitor, November 4)
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