Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 113

Russian president Boris Yeltsin yesterday justified the decision to proceed with the "election" of a legislature in Grozny, originally ordered by Moscow for June 16 but postponed under a key provision of the June 10 armistice agreement. Yeltsin told the press that the decision is up to the Grozny authorities, not the federal center. Yeltsin’s remark corroborates the Grozny authorities’ claim the previous day that the president had personally agreed to holding the election. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, Security Council secretary Oleg Lobov, and chief negotiator Vyacheslav Mikhailov had urged since June 11 that the election be held now, regardless of the armistice agreement’s stipulation postponing it until autumn, after the presumed withdrawal of Russian troops and Chechnya’s demilitarization. Presidential adviser Emil Pain had opposed the violation but yesterday fell into line. OSCE mediator Tim Guldimann strongly recommended against holding the election at this time.

The Kremlin appeared yesterday to have concluded that its political purposes in signing the armistice had already been well served. Pain told a briefing that the talks held and documents signed from May 27 to June 10 with the Chechen opposition had produced a sea change in the public’s hitherto sharply critical view of official policy toward Chechnya. Public approval of the policy had soared, Pain said.

Chechen resistance leader Zelimkhan Yandarbiev for his part told the media that the Kremlin decision was a "betrayal," but did not threaten armed action to prevent the elections from being held. It seems likely in any event that the voting can take place only in the few areas of Chechnya firmly controlled by Russian troops. (Russian and Western agencies, June 13)

Russian President Hints He Might Refuse to Leave Office.