Publication: Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 136

On November 15 Russian president Boris Yeltsin ordered that concurrent federal and republican elections are to take place in Chechnya on December 17. That order has surprised and shocked Chechen political forces, including some of Moscow’s collaborators. Yesterday, in separate statements, many spoke out. President Dzhokhar Dudayev’s spokesman Movladi Udugov, the Chechen General Staff, the group of the Moscow-authorized peacemaker Ruslan Khasbulatov (Russia’s former parliamentary chairman), and the pro-Moscow National Accord Committee protested against Yeltsin’s decision which, they all said, can only spark civil confrontation and rekindle full-scale hostilities. Dudayev’s representatives at the political negotiations with the Russian side said that Yeltsin’s unilateral decision indicated that Moscow was giving up the negotiations. Both Dudayev’s side and Khasbulatov’s group said that elections under Russian military control, and while fighting continues, are unacceptable. The pro-Moscow Supreme Soviet presidium adjourned a special meeting amid disagreement.

In Moscow yesterday, Security Council secretary and presidential envoy for Chechnya Oleg Lobov said that Moscow is prepared to sign an interim power-sharing agreement with the (Russian-appointed) Grozny leaders before the elections, to be followed by a final treaty after the elections. Lobov seconded Yeltsin’s confident prediction that the elections would show a high turnout and that the just-appointed "head of the republic" Doku Zavgayev will be confirmed in that post. (8)

At stake in the elections, if they can be held at all, is a seat in Russia’s Duma for Chechnya as a single-mandate constituency, and most importantly the political symbolism that would attach to Chechnya’s participation in the all-Russian elections and voting for all-Russian parties. Moscow needs a democratic-looking argument to hold on to Chechnya, and a local government which could be presented as a legitimate signatory of a federal treaty with the center.

Russian Debt Burden Relieved.