Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 81

At an emergency session April 23 the Chechen Defense Council transferred the posts of president and prime minister to Dudaev’s vice president, Zelimkhan Yandarbiev, in an acting capacity. Born in 1952 in deportation in Kazakhstan, Yandarbiev was an ordinary worker who became a writer and publishing house executive in Grozny. He was a key organizer of the Chechen People’s Congress which in 1991 put an end to Communist power in Chechnya — whose Communist leader of that time, Doku Zavgayev, was reinstated recently in Grozny by Boris Yeltsin. Yandarbiev was also an important figure in the proclamation of Chechen independence later in 1991. He has not served in any military capacity and has therefore had a lower public profile compared to that of Chechen commanders since the beginning of the war. The key commanders — Aslan Maskhadov (who was prevented from attending the Defense Council session), Shamil Basaev, Ruslan Gilaev, Ahmed Zakaev, and others — endorsed the choice of Yandarbiev. The new leader issued a statement pledging to continue the struggle for independence and calling for negotiations with Moscow to be linked with the withdrawal of Russian troops and recognition of Chechen independence. (Western, Russian agencies, April 24 & 25)

Yeltsin Welcomed in Beijing.