Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 3 Issue: 4

Speaking at the annual general assembly of the Academy of Military Sciences in Moscow on January 22, General of the Army Anatoly Kvashnin, chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, reported that “in Chechnya today there are present 86,000 soldiers and employees of other power agencies, including 46,000 soldiers and officers of the Ministry of Defense of Russia” (Kavkaz.strana.ru, January 22).

In an article appearing in the January 23 Moscow Times, Grigory Yavlinsky, head of the Yabloko faction in the Russian State Duma, stated: “The [Russian] policy toward Chechnya is at a complete impasse and is both senseless and dangerous. It has made the situation much more difficult than it was in 1999…. The situation has deteriorated to such an extent that now a huge amount of preparatory work will be required for talks, which cannot be avoided, to produce some positive results.”

On January 21, the Moscow Times also reported that Russian presidential aide Sergei Yastrzhembsky had reacted “with sarcasm” to recent statements by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Ruud Lubbers, that Aslan Maskhadov “is certainly not a terrorist” and should be involved in the peace process. “It is interesting for us,” Yastrzhembsky remarked caustically, “to hear the view of those who visit Chechnya for a few hours and then form their opinions on what is happening there” (Moscow Times, January 21).