Chechen president Aslan Maskhadov is reported to have appointed Shamil Basaev as first deputy prime minister. (April 2, NTV, ORT) The news has created a sensation in Russia: until now, former information minister Movladi Udugov had been acting first deputy prime minister, and everyone expected him to be confirmed in that post. Basaev finished second to Maskhadov in Chechnya’s presidential election in January, but the fact that he led the hostage-taking raid on Budennovsk in June 1995 had made him, in the Kremlin’s eyes, one of the most odious of the leaders of the Chechen resistance, and the recent amnesty adopted by the Russian Duma pointedly did not extend to the "terrorist" Basaev. Thus, Basaev’s appointment to the government is likely to be seen by Moscow as a direct challenge and to have a negative influence on the course of Russian-Chechen negotiations. On the same day that the Basaev appointment was announced, Maskhadov said that the Russian-Chechen negotiations had reached an impasse and that the Chechen side was not happy with any of the four draft agreements between Moscow and Djohar-gala. (NTV, April 2)
U.S. Calls for Russia to Press Ahead with Economic Reform.