Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 3 Issue: 19

On June 28, Kommersant published an open letter addressed to Putin by a former high-ranking Russian state official, Ivan Rybkin. Under Boris Yeltsin, Rybkin served as speaker of the Russian State Duma and then as secretary of the Russian Security Council. In his open letter to Putin, Rybkin revealed that in early April he had been summoned to the office of the Russian Procurator General. “My interlocutor,” Rybkin noted, “was interested in the events related to the preparation and signing of the peace treaty [signed] between the Russian Federation and the Chechen Republic on May 12, 1997.” If the signing of this treaty is now regarded as a criminal and perhaps even treasonous act, then, of course, both former Russian President Yeltsin and former Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, could, at least theoretically, themselves be required some day to stand in the dock. “When you [Putin] were asked at your recent news conference about who stands behind you,” Rybkin wrote, “you referred to the [Russian] people. I assure you that the people of Russia reject the war in Chechnya…. Criminalization of your predecessors’ course in Chechnya will lead to a dead-end too…. I urge you to respond to the proposals of the legitimate leader of Chechnya, Aslan Maskhadov, and initiate peace talks” (Translated into English by WPS Monitoring Agency–I have made a few minor stylistic changes in the translation).