Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 47

Tatarstan will be the first Russian region to sign a trade and economic cooperation treaty with breakaway Chechnya, according to sources close to Tatarstan’s president, Mintimer Shaimiev. "We aren’t disturbed by the uncertainty of Chechnya’s status," said a member of the presidential staff. "We have already signed similar treaties with [Georgia’s] Abkhazia and [Moldova’s] Transdniestria." (Vechernyaya Kazan, February 27) Tatarstan is also developing trade links with France, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and the U.S., and maintains cultural links with Iran and Iraq. (Nezavisimaya gazeta, February 14)

Meanwhile, the Russian Duma voted by a large majority this morning to grant amnesty to those accused of committing "socially dangerous acts" during the 21-month war in Chechnya. The amnesty will not apply to those charged with "banditry," such as Chechen field commanders Basayev and Raduyev, who remain Russia’s most wanted men. The Chechen authorities, who say Chechnya is an independent country not subject to Russian law, are unlikely to be impressed by the move. The main aim of the amnesty is to enable Russian soldiers being held in Chechnya to be released in exchange for Chechens held in Russian prisons. The chief beneficiaries, according to the BBC, are likely to be some 1,000 Russian soldiers charged with offenses such as desertion, looting, and rape. (BBC World Service, March 7)

Ukraine’s Economic Stabilization Continues in 1997.