The fourth session of the joint Russian-Chechen commission to prepare a draft treaty began on September 25 at the President Hotel in Moscow, where Russian Security Council secretary Ivan Rybkin gave the leader of the Chechen delegation a draft agreement on the mutual delegation of powers between the organs of state power of the Russian Federation and Chechnya. According to Rybkin, Chechnya is being offered special status with the broadest powers and a maximum of independence, but within the Russian Federation.
In the opinion of the newspaper Segodnya, the very title of the draft proposed by Moscow to Grozny contradicts the Russian constitution. Such an agreement is not envisaged, either by the Russian constitution or by the federative treaty between the center and the subjects of the Federation. The constitution stipulates that only "agreements on the demarcation of objects of jurisdiction and powers" can be concluded between the center and Federation subjects. (Segodnya, September 24)
But, as has become clear, this concession on Moscow’s part has proven to be too little for Grozny, which does not want to settle for a compromise, and is insisting on recognition of the republic’s independence. A member of the Chechen delegation, special presidential envoy Ruslan Kutaev, told the media that "the Chechen delegation has a clear goal — to continue working toward an agreement on a full-scale treaty between our two states, and an agreement on a common defense and economic space." In the opinion of the head of the Chechen delegation, Chechen first deputy premier Movladi Udugov, Moscow’s reluctance to recognize the independence of Chechnya could lead to a destabilization of the situation throughout the Northern Caucasus and could jeopardize the uninterrupted functioning of the Baku-Novorossiisk oil pipeline, along which the transportation of Caspian Sea oil is scheduled to begin on October 1. (NTV and other Russian media, September 25)
Proposed Pipeline Bypassing Chechnya Poses its Own Security Risks.