Chechen leaders have responded cautiously to last week’s announcement by President Boris Yeltsin that he plans to visit Grozny in January. Security Council secretary Ivan Rybkin is to go to the breakaway republic tomorrow or the next day to begin preparations for the visit. A spokesman for Chechen president Aslan Maskhadov said Grozny will use the opportunity to press Yeltsin to sign, or at least discuss, a comprehensive interstate treaty recognizing Chechnya’s independence and paving the way for the establishment of diplomatic relations between Russia and Chechnya. (RTR, November 28; NTV, November 29) But the spokesman stressed that Yeltsin will be received in Grozny as the head of a foreign state and that, if he tries to treat Chechnya as part of the Russian Federation, he will not be allowed to enter the republic.
President Ruslan Aushev of neighboring Ingushetia reacted with greater enthusiasm, telling a press conference that, while it would have been better if Yeltsin had made his planned visit three years ago, it could still help to resolve outstanding problems. Warning that many people would try to talk Yeltsin out of making the visit, Aushev said it would be good for Yeltsin to see the situation in the republic with his own eyes. (RTR, November 29)
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