Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 3 Issue: 26

In the first week of September, Ivan Rybkin, a former speaker of the Russian State Duma and a former secretary of the Russian Security Council, traveled to Tbilisi to discuss his peace plan for the Chechen conflict with the president of Georgia, Eduard Shevardnadze. “I have been acquainted with Eduard Amvrosievich Shevardnadze for a long time,” Rybkin remarked during an interview with Nezavisimaya Gazeta (September 9 issue). “I wanted to consult with him about the plan for peaceful regulation in and around Chechnya worked out a rather long time ago but was recently, in Zurich, adopted as a basis for possible negotiations on political regulation…. As I said to Shevardnadze, in the event that this plan is realized, the territorial integrity of Russia will be preserved and Chechnya will remain within the borders of the Russian Federation: A single defense, economic, social and particularly legal space is proposed. I also said that, of course, after the end of military actions there must immediately be an amnesty for all participants in [the war]. This does not mean that we recognize criminals like Budanov or Basaev. They have broken the law. But, to reestablish peace, they and those like them should be immediately amnestied. That is a condition for further negotiations. These are the most important elements of the plan.” Rybkin emphasized that he is directing “all [his] strength” toward ending the war, especially because the conflict now threatens to spill over onto Georgian soil. On September 11, Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported that Rybkin had also been in contact with President Haidar Aliev of Azerbaijan.