Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 149

Talking to journalists at his Volga vacation residence yesterday, Russian president Boris Yeltsin said he intends to invite Chechen president Aslan Maskhadov to Moscow for talks. The plan Yeltsin intends to present to Maskhadov boils down to a power-sharing agreement between Russian and Chechen government agencies. According to Yeltsin, such an agreement might resemble Moscow’s treaties with Tatarstan and other Russian republics. But Yeltsin ruled out the possibility of a full-fledged treaty. "Our relations, which are developing normally," Yeltsin said, "have not yet reached the level where we can sign a ‘super-big treaty’ such as we have signed with, for example, the US, France, and other countries." (Itar-Tass, July 30)

The previous day, Maskhadov had announced that he was calling a halt to all negotiations with Moscow until a plan for restoring Chechnya’s economy and social infrastructure is approved. Despite numerous Kremlin promises, Russia has made no start on restoration. (Monitor, July 30) Within hours, however, a spokesman for Maskhadov retracted the original report, stating that contacts between Russia and Chechnya would continue and hinting that Maskhadov had merely intended to get Moscow’s attention. (NTV, July 29) Maskhadov’s ultimatum appears to have had the desired effect and forced Yeltsin to pay attention to Chechnya once more. But Yeltsin’s statement that the most Chechnya can expect is a treaty similar to those Moscow has signed with other subjects of the Russian Federation will certainly not satisfy Djohar-gala, which continues to insist on formal recognition of Chechnya’s independence.

The Chechen authorities will also react negatively to another statement by Yeltsin, who spoke yesterday of the "personnel problem" in Chechnya. Yeltsin said he wants to hear from Maskhadov that he will "remove the extremists" from power. It is not clear whom Boris Yeltsin has in mind, since Maskhadov is now surrounded by people who are ready to engage in dialogue with Russia. Indeed, this creates its own problems for Maskhadov, since the influence of former president Zelimkhan Yandarbiev and field commanders Shamil Basaev and Salman Raduev and other "extremists" has, if anything, only strengthened since they left power. Perhaps Yeltsin means Vice President Vakha Arsanov, whose threats to send Chechen forces to rescue kidnapped Chechens from North Ossetia did not go down well in Moscow. Security Council staffers attribute Maskhadov’s recent harsh statements to what they see as a power struggle going on within Chechnya. (Nezavisimaya gazeta, July 30)

Yeltsin Appeals to the Armed Forces for Support.