Russian president Boris Yeltsin and Chechen president Aslan Maskhadov were upbeat following their meeting in Moscow yesterday. Maskhadov described Yeltsin warmly as "perhaps the only man who can decide things and make peace after 400 years of war." The two leaders agreed to set up an intergovernmental commission that will start work next week on drafting a wide-ranging political treaty. (RTR, August 18)
This appeared to be a concession on Moscow’s part, since Russia has until now insisted on sticking by the terms of the peace treaty, which put Chechnya’s political status on the back burner until the year 2001. Yeltsin also promised Maskhadov that he will investigate discrepancies between the large amounts of money Russia says it has sent to Chechnya and the minuscule amounts the Chechens say have actually arrived.
In other respects, however, Yeltsin seems to have given little away. He stressed that what he was talking about was "more freedom" for Chechnya, not full, formal independence. "Of course, there will be a single economic, defense, and air space — that’s the main thing," Yeltsin said yesterday. Russian Security Council secretary Ivan Rybkin likewise insisted that Russia’s territorial integrity will be maintained. "We will solve the problem as we did with Shaimiev," Yeltsin said, referring to the power-sharing agreement signed by Moscow in 1994 with the Republic of Tatarstan. Chechen leaders have repeatedly rejected such a treaty for Chechnya. (RTR, August 18)
Would a Tatarstan-Type Treaty Suit Chechnya?