Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 108

Georgian president Eduard Shevardnadze and Chechen presidential adviser Ruslan Kutaev met behind closed doors on June 1. According to Georgian television, they discussed "issues connected with cultural and economic relations between Georgia and Chechnya." Visits of high-ranking Chechen emissaries to Tbilisi are becoming more frequent. Kutaev was in Tbilisi two weeks ago, though Shevardnadze did not meet with him at that time. A week later, Shevardnadze received a Chechen delegation led by Security Council secretary and Minister of Culture Akhmed Zakaev. (Interfax, June 2) Under President Dudaev, relations between Grozny and Tbilisi were extremely tense. During the war in Abkhazia, Chechen volunteers fought on the Abkhazian side against the Georgian army.

Since Aslan Maskhadov was elected president of Chechnya, his government has actively tried to establish friendly contacts with neighboring Georgia. Chechnya has borders with Russia and Georgia only; in order to be completely independent from Moscow, therefore, it is extremely important for it to establish friendly relations with Tbilisi. Almost immediately after he was elected, Maskhadov met with Georgia’s defense minister, announced that Chechnya recognizes Georgia’s territorial integrity, and admitted that helping Sukhumi had been a mistake. Establishment of friendly relations with Chechnya is also important for Tbilisi, which fears, and not without reason, that the activities of rogue Chechen fighters could spill over onto its territory.

Armed Groups Show Who’s Boss Near Dushanbe.