The Russian government is pressing ahead with the Chechen peace settlement despite strong opposition from parliament and even from some members of the government itself. Only a day after Duma members accused Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed of "treason" for his efforts to end the Chechen conflict, Lebed was present when Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin met in the Russian government building with Chechen opposition leader Zelimkhan Yandarbiev. Also taking part were Nationalities Minister Vyacheslav Mikhailov, Prime Minister of the pro-Moscow government Nikolai Koshman, and the head of the OSCE mission in Chechnya, Tim Guldimann. The two sides signed a statement agreeing to set up the Joint Commission envisioned in the Khasavyurt accords, giving fresh momentum to peace efforts that have stalled since the accords were signed on August 31. The Joint Commission will be responsible for overseeing the withdrawal of Russian troops and the reconstruction of the war-ravaged republic, including the rebuilding of housing and restoration of the public health service. It will meet in Grozny under Russian and Chechen co-chairmanship at least once a week and its decisions will be binding. (Itar-Tass, Interfax, AP, October 3; Nezavisimaya gazeta, October 4)
The fact that Chernomyrdin signed yesterday’s agreement means that Moscow has for the first time officially recognized the Khasavyurt accords. Until now, the Russian government had refused to express unambiguous approval of the accords, and their legal basis had been questioned. Yesterday Russia’s Constitutional Court also declined to consider an appeal by 93 Duma deputies to pronounce on the constitutionality of the Khasavyurt accords, asserting that the appeal was "incorrectly formulated". (Interfax, October 3) In a statement after yesterday’s meeting with Yandarbiev, Chernomyrdin stressed that the agreement made no mention of Chechnya’s status. But he emphasized that there had been no change in the position of his government — that Chechnya remains an integral part of the Russian Federation.
Yeltsin Praises and Rebukes Lebed.