Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 164

President Boris Yeltsin has condemned as "inadmissible," "mediaeval," and the "law of the lynch mob" the public execution of a young man and woman in the Chechen capital. The two, who had been found guilty of murder by one of Chechnya’s new Shariat courts, were shot dead before a large crowd of onlookers in Djohar-gala on September 3. The executions were also denounced yesterday in the Russian parliament, which will debate them in plenary session later today. (RTR, Radio Russia, September 4)

The executions have provoked an uproar in Russia because they combine two particularly thorny and unresolved topics. One is the status of Chechnya and its relations with Russia; the other is the use of the death penalty in Russia itself. Moscow denies Chechnya’s claim to be an independent state and maintains that it is an integral part of Russia, but the events of the last two days have forced Russians to face the fact that Moscow has lost all control over what happens inside the republic.

Interviewed last night on Russia’s Independent Television, Vladimir Lukin, chairman of the Duma’s International Affairs Commission and a long-standing member of the Russian delegation to the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly, said it was high time that Russia acknowledged that it has not been a single, united country for some considerable time — since before Russia’s defeat in its "hellish and senseless" war in Chechnya. Lukin said he expected debate over the public executions to hasten the awareness among the Russian population of the fact that Chechnya is de facto, if not de jure, independent. He also predicted that the executions would bring home to other member-countries of the Council of Europe an appreciation that Russia now represents "Europe’s eastern border." Lukin stressed, too, that while Russia has signaled its determination to join Europe by suspending the application of the death penalty within its borders, capital punishment remains in the criminal code and in the Russian constitution and there is still a long way to go before it is abolished in Russia altogether. (NTV, September 4)

Moscow Flip-Flops on Oil Transit Rates.