Russia’s chief security official, Aleksandr Lebed, flew this morning to Dagestan and arrived in the town of Kasavyurt on the Chechnya border for talks with Chechen leaders Zelimkhan Yandarbiev and Aslan Maskhadov. Lebed is carrying a draft outline of a plan for a political settlement of the conflict. He indicated on arrival that the document is a preliminary one, entailing negotiations over time.
The Kremlin appears to be undercutting Lebed’s initiative from the start. Asked today on arrival whether President Boris Yeltsin approved the plan, Lebed could only say that he only had a "general conversation" about it with the president by telephone yesterday — still short of the meeting that Lebed has been seeking in vain. Similarly, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin’s spokesman said last night that Lebed’s plan needs "serious improvements." The Kremlin’s sniping apparently reflects discontent with the degree of self-rule which Lebed’s draft would grant to Chechnya.
As of this morning, the ceasefire was holding. Troop disengagement and the withdrawal of Russian forces continued on schedule. (Russian and Western agencies, August 29 and 30)
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