Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 11

The seizure of hostages by Chechen rebels in Dagestan "has seriously hurt the struggle of the Chechen people for independence or autonomy," Iran’s state-run radio said yesterday. Tehran charged that the hostage-taking had strengthened hawks in the Kremlin and had provided Boris Yeltsin an opportunity to use force to improve his sinking political fortunes. In recent years, Iranian leaders have worked to improve relations with Russia and have generally refrained from criticizing Moscow on the issue of Chechnya, describing it as a Russian domestic problem. (7) Iranian leaders were nevertheless compelled to deny allegations made by Yeltsin January 15 that mercenaries from Iran and Pakistan were among the Chechen rebels battling federal troops in Dagestan. Pakistan also issued a categorical denial of the allegation. Even a spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry seemed to contradict Yeltsin when he said that Moscow had no evidence that mercenaries were present in Pervomaiskoye. The spokesman suggested the question would be answered by Russian security forces following the expected defeat of the rebels. (8)

West Urges Peaceful Resolution of Hostage Crisis.