In an interview appearing in the no. 31 (September 13-20) issue of the weekly Vek, retired MVD General Aslambek Aslakhanov, the elected deputy from Chechnya to the Russian State Duma, underlined the pressing need to conduct negotiations with the Chechen separatists. “Otherwise,” he said, “we won’t see peace for a long time…. I propose that, for negotiations to take place, a declaration is needed in which Maskhadov distances himself from those hindering him from carrying out his duties as president of Chechnya, from all uninvited guests…. It is necessary to collect together respected people who enjoy authority from among various groups of the populace. From warring Chechens, who are agitated by the fate of the people and not the long-term future of this particular leader, and also from among those representatives of the population of Chechnya who reside in other subjects of the Russian Federation. From them a working group should be formed that… would work out and prepare proposals directed toward the halting of military actions in the Chechen Republic. All of this could assist the president of the Russian Federation to adopt a decision to form a working group to prepare a treaty to end military actions.” Maskhadov, Aslakhanov noted, “has more than once stated that he is not clinging to power and that he wants peace for the peoples of the Chechen Republic. In any case, I think that he will not oppose it [the peace process], and that, too, is significant.” Both Akhmad Kadyrov and Bislan Gantamirov, Aslakhanov commented, “earlier repeatedly declared that they were against [peace] negotiations. But they, too, are tired of war.”
On September 10, former Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov published excerpts from a new book of his on the pages of the Russian government newspaper, Rossiiskaya Gazeta. Primakov wrote that it was time for Russia “to take a second look at tactics” and consider talks with the Chechen separatists. “It is obvious that without negotiations with [separatist] field commanders, at least some of them, transferring local self-rule to the Chechen side and the creation of local security will not succeed,” Primakov cautioned (Associated Press, September 10).