In a statement issued over Ekho Moskvy Radio, the Russian presidential spokesman for issues relating to Chechnya, Sergei Yastrzhembsky, underscored his belief that the current winter will be the last for the resistance in Chechnya. “The affair is coming to an end,” Yastrzhembsky asserted. The separatists, he claimed, are running out of ammunition and of supplies of food, medicine and warm clothing. In addition, “the international climate has also not improved for the terrorists” (RIA Novosti, December 13). Despite his optimistic take on future developments, Yastrzhembsky noted that journalists working in Chechnya will continue to need to receive “special accreditation” from the Russian authorities. “For the time being,” he said, “we are forced to act according to the previous procedures, and I cannot cite a concrete timetable for their being revoked” (Strana.ru, December 13).
In a similar vein, Viktor Kazantsev, the plenipotentiary Russian presidential representative in the Southern Federal District, recently predicted that the “antiterrorist operation” in Chechnya would be completed by the spring of 2002 (Interfax, December 7). As for talks with the separatists, Kazantsev said that the contacts with representatives of Aslan Maskhadov could go forward only if the rebels gave up their demands for independence. “Once again, they are talking about an independent Ichkeria,” he groused (AP, December 8).