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The Negotiation Process between Russia and Chechenia - Strategies, achievements and Future Problems



First published in: CONTRASTS AND SOLUTIONS IN THE CAUCASUS, Ole Høiris and Sefa Martin Yürukel (eds.) Copyright: Aarhus University Press, 1998.  

By Märta-Lisa Magnusson


Russia's efforts to quell the Chechen bid for independence by military force was a failure. But the political strategy which the Federal authorities worked out to retain the breakaway Republic within the Federation also failed.

Russia's military defeat was confirmed by the separatists re-seizure of Grozny at the beginning of August 1996 and by the agreement signed shortly after in Khasavjurt, by the Chechen Chief of Staff, Aslan Maskhadov and the Russian Security Council Secretary, Aleksander Lebed. The fact that the political strategy failed was confirmed when the Chechens in January 1997 went to the polls and elected a new President and Deputies to the Chechen Parliament on the basis of the Chechen Constitution (adopted in 1992 under Dudayev), and the Chechen election laws; not on the basis of the Federal Constitution, nor Federal election laws.

Actually the Russian Government is back where it started in December 1994, when Federal forces were set in to 'reestablish Constitutional order' in the Chechen Republic, or the 'Chechen Republic of Itchkeria' as it was renamed under Dudayev. After 18 months of devastating war, at a cost of more than 80,000 civilian lives and some 200,000 refugees, the fundamental issue, and the very reason why military forces were set in, is still unsettled.

The new Chechen President, Aslan Maskhadov, has declared that Chechenia has no intention of giving up its political independence, as officially proclaimed by the first elected Chechen President, Jokhar Dudayev, on November 1, 1991. Elected with the consent of the Federal authorities and on the basis of agree­ments, signed at Governmental level between the Russian Federation and the Chechen Republic Ichkeria, Maskhadov, in contrast to Dudayev and his successor Selimkhan Yandarbiev, cannot be treated as an illegitimate 'bandit', as these men were labelled by President Yeltsin and other Federal officials.

Having recognized the Chechen elections, accomplished on the basis of a Con­stitution defining Chechenia as an independent state, the Federal authorities have legalized Chechen claims to independence. This is a fact of principal importance for the forthcoming negotiations on the mutual relations between the Russian Federation and Chechenia.

However, Chechen negotiators will not be satisfied with the mere legalization of Chechen independence claims. They will insist that Chechenia is independent.

According to the Khasavjurt agreement, the issue of mutual relations between the Russian Federation and the Chechen Republic shall be resolved before 2001.

The two parties interpret this provision somewhat differently, however. While the Russians claim that settlement of the issue be delayed until the year 2001, the Chechens insist that it be clarified before 2001. Thus, shortly after he was elected, Maskhadov declared that '... it is necessary to start tackling the issue as soon as possible'.

In the negotiations that are to come, previous agreements will play an important role. Chechen negotiators will refer to documents signed by both parties and oblige the Russian side to adhere to them. The Russians, for their part, will probably take a less legalistic approach, stressing the need to consider new political and economic 'realities'.

Against Chechen attempts to force through substantial decisions, the Russian side will most probably prize 'the value of dialogue in itself', or more concretely, draw out the negotiations as long as possible. This was also hinted at by the new Secretary of the Russian Security Council, Ivan Rybkin, who, in an interview to Izvestija shortly after the Chechen elections declared that: 'It is better to sit for years at the negotiating table than to fight'.[1] 

The Aim of the Article

The aim of this article is to examine the dynamics of the negotiation process between the two parties to the conflict and assess the principal importance of previous agreements to forthcoming negotiations. The period of time discussed will be from August-September 1991, witnessing the Dudayevites seizure of power in the then Checheno-Ingush Republic, to August 1996, when the Khasavjurt agreement was signed. I shall demonstrate that although the nego­tiation process only gained momentum after the outbreak of war, efforts to find a political solution to the conflict were also made before December 1994. Officials at the Federal level made several calls to negotiate with the authorities of the insurgent Chechen Republic. President Dudayev at an early stage called for negotiations with the Federal authorities.

The attempt to solve the conflict by military means was not only the most costly variant in all regards. Neither was it the only option available. I shall argue that if the central decision-makers in Moscow had listened to those voices that had opted for negotiations, and if they had reacted adequately to Chechen proposals, the war could have been avoided.

The first part of my article shall demonstrate, that both parties to the conflict had developed a strategy for a political solution to the conflict long before the outbreak of war. While the Chechen strategy was more or less manifest from the outset, the Russian one crystallized first at the end of 1992. Common to both strategies was a stubborn adherence to principal positions, not to be sub­ject to negotiation. On the Chechen side this concerned Chechenia's status as an independent state and a subject of international, not Federal constitutional law. On the Russian side the unshakable principal position, before as well as after the development of a coherent strategy, was that Chechenia was a consti­tuent part of the Russian Federation. The Chechen strategy was based on the concept of Federal-Chechen State negotiations only and a readiness to com­promise on any issue except Chechenia's status as an independent state.

The Russian strategy was based on the concept of 'non-governmentals only', to be more exact, contacts and support to Dudayev opposition forces only. Any official negotiations between Russia and Chechenia, except on the basis of Federal laws, was out of the question.

After eight months of warfare, in the autumn of 1995, the Russian strategy was transformed into a 'Chechenization' strategy, aimed at making the conflict into an 'internal Chechen dialog'. At this time, however, the Russian side had already made several politically 'strategic mistakes', dooming the 'interna­lization' policy to fail.

The second part of my article will examine the dynamics of the negotiation process after the outbreak of war and demonstrate that also on the political level the Chechens turned out to be more judicious than the Russians. With the Khasavjurt agreement, the Chechens obtained what they had insisted on since Dudayev formulated his first proposals to negotiate. Russia recognized that the authorities of Chechenia-lchkeria were the only parties empowered to decide on Chechenia's future, and that Russian-Chechen relations should be based on international, not Federal constitutional law.

In the concluding chapter the prospects for a final solution to the issue of Chechenia's status and the role of previous agreements in forthcoming negotiations are discussed. 


Prewar Developments

The Chechen Revolution. Moscow's Contradictory Reactions

Russia did not recognize the Presidential election in Chechenia on October 27, 1991, when 90% out of a total of 72% of the Chechen population that took part in the election voted for Jokhar Dudayev, former General in the Soviet Airforce, and since 1990 Chairman of the 'parallel parliament', the National Congress of the Chechen People (NCCP). Russia did not recognize the declaration of Chechen independence, first adopted at the founding congress of the NCCP on November 25, 1990 and officially proclaimed by Dudayev on November 1, 1991. Russia did not accept the procedure whereby NCCP seized power from the then functioning Chechen state bodies.

But Russia's reactions during the 'Chechen revolution' were contradictional and inconsequential. President Yeltsin and the Acting-Chairman of the Russian Supreme Soviet, Ruslan Chasbulatov (a native Chechen) at first supported Dudayev and the NCCP. Yeltsin and the 'democratic' leaders in Moscow wanted to get rid of the Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the Checheno-­Ingush Republic, Doku Zavgayev, who also held the post as Secretary of the local branch of the Communist Party. Zavgayev had incurred Yeltsin's anger when he, like most regional leaders, failed to renounce the August 19, coup attempt in Moscow.

Yeltsin, by this time engaged in a power battle with Gorbachev, had encouraged bids for sovereignty in the 16 autonomous republics of the Russian Federation, as this was something he could instrumenatlize in his efforts to dismantle the Soviet system.

When NCCP demanded the dissolution of the Chechen Supreme Soviet, Secretary of State of the Russian Federation, Gennadij Burbulis and Ruslan Chasbulatov travelled to Grozny. Both urged Doku Zavgayev and the Chechen Supreme Soviet to resign.[2] A Temporary Supreme Soviet was established which announced elections to a new Parliament in November.

NCCP however, was not satisfied with the composition of the Temporary Supreme Soviet (several members were deputies to the dissolved Supreme Soviet) and claimed that it ought to consist of NCCP members only. The Temporary Supreme Soviet was forced to resign, (according to Dudayev it dissolved voluntary)[3] and NCCP announced Parliamentary and Presidential elections to take place on October 27.

Moscow became growingly worried about the developments of events in Grozny. Surely the Federal authorities were interested in getting rid of Zavgayev. But Dudayev and NCCP obviously 'overfulfilled the plan' and clearly strived for more than the mere ousting of the local communist nomenclatura.

On October 8, the Russian Supreme Soviet issued a resolution, demanding the reinstatement of the Temporary Supreme Soviet (and disarmament of so-called ‘armed formations')

Elections, however, were accomplished as planned by NCCP on October 27. Vice-President Aleksander Rutskoy, who also paid a visit to Grozny in this turbulent time, and sided with the Temporary Supreme Soviet, declared after meetings with all implicated parties, including Dudayev: 'This is not a revolution. It is banditisrn.[4]

When Dudayev on November 1, proclaimed Chechen state sovereignty, Yeltsin lost his patience.[5] 

Yeltsin Orders Troops: Russian Supreme Soviet Opts for Negotiations

On November 8, Yeltsin declared a state of emergency in Chechenia and         dispatched 2,500 Internal Ministry troops to the disobedient Republic. The troops never got into action thouh, partly because they were already stopped by Dudayev's National Guard at Grozny airport, and partly because the        Russian Supreme Soviet repealed Yeltsin's decree a few days after it was issued.

In its ordinance the Russian Supreme Soviet renounced the 'emergency means' and called for a political regulation of the conflict. They proposed the appointment of an official delegation who, on behalf of the Russian Federation (RSFSR) and with a mandate confirmed by the Russian Supreme Soviet, would 'negotiate with all political forces in the Checheno-Ingush Republic'.[6] The ordinance also stated that 'it was necessary to take measures to stabilize the political situation in the Russian Federation and secure its territorial integrity'.[7]

The Russian Supreme Soviet's annulment of President Yeltsin's decree revealed that there were divergent attitudes in Moscow as to how the conflict should be handled.

At this time a draft Russian Federation Treaty was worked upon in Moscow, codifying relations between the Federal centre and the 89 administrative entities of the Russian Federation. Deputies to the Russian Supreme Soviet were obviously more concerned than the President about the effects of a military assault on Chechenia or other ethnically defined entities. (Most of them had adopted declarations of sovereignty in the course of 1990-91 although inside the framework of the Russian Federation or the Soviet Union) A military assault could easily provoke negative reactions among the non-Russian entities, making them opt for not signing the Federation Treaty.

The averted military assault consolidated Dudayev's position. Confronted with a threat from the outside, Dudayev's opponents rallied around him.

Dudayev's Conditions and the First Russian-Chechen Meetings

Even if the interference of the Russian Supreme Soviet was to Dudayev's advantage, he was nevertheless not pleased. He perceived the formulation 'negotiate with all political forces in the Checheno-Ingush Republic' as a dis­avowal of the new Chechen authorities.

'The Russian delegation intends to negotiate with some public organization and not with the legal authorities, not with the popularly elected President', he said in an interview to Sovietskya Rossiya.[8]

In the same interview he informed, that'...the Chechen Parliament has made a decision on the impossibility of negotiations until Russia recognizes the legal­ly elected President and Chechenia's independence'.[9]

Nevertheless, in the first part of 1992 Russian and Chechen delegations met and held talks on two occasions. The first meeting took place on May 28 in Dagomys (Sochi), the second later in the summer in Moscow. The meetings were held at Parliamentary level and the head of the Russian delegation in both cases was Deputy Chairman of the Russian Supreme Soviet's Council of Nationalities, V. Shigulin. However, according to members of the Russian delegation neither meeting was official. They were only preliminary briefings 'oriented at holding meetings between official delegations'.[10] But the Chechen side ascribed great importance to these meetings. At a meeting with the members of an International Alert fact-finding mission in September 1992, the Chairman of the Chechen Parliament, Ch. Akhmadov, claimed that the meeting in Dagomys was 'a political recognition of the independent Chechnia'.

In Grozny, members of the International Alert delegation got photocopies of two letters, signed by President Dudayev and addressed to President Yeltsin. In one of them Dudayev writes:

In accordance with the traditions of our peoples and for the sake of their peace and prosperity, I hold out the hand of friendship to you and propose a meeting in the near future at which we, in the name of a better future, might be able to solve all complicated questions.

In the other letter he writes:

Looking back at the first months after the August coup attempt and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, we both have to admit that errors and insulting mistakes were made by both sides. But nevertheless I think that the time of mutual demands has passed. Let us return to the sole base on which mutual understanding and a neighbourly atmo­sphere can be built. This base is economic cooperation on civilized premises, and collaboration on mutual development that follows from this. It seems to me the time has come to give up political quarrels, to soberly consider the realities that have emer­ged and to follow the lines of civilized economic cooperation, taking a point of depar­ture in the actual situation.[11]

Also in interviews and other public announcements, Dudayev signaled his wil­lingness to negotiate. On the question 'Would it be possible to find an agree­ment with Russia?' asked in an interview published in Kavkazkij kray he answered: 'In order to act correctly and with the aim of maintaining good rela­tions we will not conclude any agreement with any other country. We are waiting for the signing of a treaty with Russia'.[12]

In a letter to International Alert, commenting the Chechenia Report, Dudayev wrote: 'Negotiations between the Chechen Republic and Russia are the only acceptable way to resolve the present situation. We are ready to discuss with you or any of your representatives suggestions about the possibility of involving a third party in the negotiating process.' But, he adds, 'We are ready for compromise on any difficult question, but we are firm regarding our independent status.[13]

The Chechen Constitution: The Federal Treaty

On March 12, 1992 Chechenia, as the first among the former autonomous republics, adopted a new Constitution, codifying its independent status. Accor­ding to the preambula, Chechenia is 'an independent state' and 'an equal sub­ject in the system of the world-wide commonwealth of nations.[14] The new Chechen Constitution also stipulates that Chechenia independently defines her own internal as well as foreign policy; has the highest authority regarding her own territory and national resources; adopts constitutions and laws that have priority on the territory of the Chechen Republic; has the right to armed forces of her own; may declare general or partial mobilization and declare a state of emergency in case of a military assault on Chechenia.

This of course was perceived as a provocation in Moscow, especially the preambula, defining Chechenia as a subject of international law. But also the 'timing' must have been perceived as a provocation to the Federal Government. The Chechen Constitution was adopted only two weeks before the signing of the Federal Treaty (scheduled on March 30, 1992) granting extensive rights to the former autonomous republics. Dudayev, however refused to sign it.

The dispatch of the Russian delegation to Dagomys was probably aimed at persuading the Chechens to sign the Federal Treaty.

New Priorities in Moscow: The Challenge from Tatarstan

But even if the behaviour of the Chechens was challenging, after Yeltsin's declaration of a state of emergency in November 1991, Russia did not under­take any drastic measures to bring them back to order. Actually the Federal authorities more or less ignored Chechenia throughout most 1992. But Russia did impose economic sanctions. These measures seriously affected the Chechen population and contributed to the growth of anti-Dudayev sentiments.

In Spring 1992 all Russian troops were withdrawn from Chechen territory, leaving behind a large quantity of weapons, which were overtaken by Duda­yev's National Guard and private businessmen. According to a Chechen government Memorandum, the withdrawal of troops and 'partition of wea­pons' was accomplished in accordance with an 'intergovernmental agreement with Russian authorities', signed on May 26,1992.[15] (The Memorandum does not specify who these authorities were. Rumours insist that the weapons were handed over to Dudayev with the consent of Russian Minister of Defence, Pavel Grachev).

In 1992 Russia gradually also got other concerns than Chechenia. In the Federal centre a new power struggle was emerging between President Yeltsin and Russian Supreme Soviet. This battle got higher priority than 'vertical' disputes with 'regional' leaders. As regards centre-periphery relations, a threat considered much more serious than Chechenia also had emerged, diminishing the interest for what was going on in the small North Caucasian Republic. Tatarstan, in the heart of Russia and both politically and economically con­sidered more important than Chechenia, also made claims on independence and refused to sign the Federation Treaty. A week before the signing of the Federal Treaty, Tatarstan carried through a referendum in which 61% of the population voted for the upgrading of Tatarstan to a subject of international law.

While one high ranking Federal official after the other travelled to Kazan to hold meetings with Tatarstan leaders, and President Yeltsin held talks with the President of Tatarstan, Menitimer Shaimiyev, Moscow refused to negotiate directly with Dudayev and the Chechen Government.

Chechen Draft Treaty on Russian-Chechen Relations

In the summer 1992 the Chechen Parliament worked out a draft 'Treaty on the Basis of Interstate Relation between the Russian Federation and the Che­chen Republic'. After an introductory provision that both parties recognize each other's right to independence, the draft Treaty proposed cooperation and coordination in the following fields:

The status of  Russians in Chechenia and Chechens in Russia;
     Regulation of migration and organized criminality;
     Economic coordination, including customs and finance policy;
     Agreement on best-favoured status in trade;
     Regulation of the property of the parties on the two parties territories;
     Coordination of communications and transit through the territories of the parties;
     Cooperation in the fields of culture, science, social health care and ecology.

The draft Treaty also proposed coordination of foreign policy, cooperation in international organizations and an agreement on defence cooperation based on the sovereignty of both parties.[16] But this initiative was also ignored by the Federal authorities.

New ‘Informal’ Talks

On September 24,1992 a group of Russian parliamentarians arrived in Grozny. The head of delegation was Deputy Chairman of the Russian Supreme Soviet, J. Yarov. The delegation was invited by the Chairman of the Chechen Parliament, Ch. Akhmadov. Assessing the outcome of this visit, Deputy Chair­man of the foreign policy committee of the Chechen Parliament, S. Abu­muslimov, called the negotiations 'an important step on the road to full poli­tical recognition of the Chechen state'.[17]

He stressed the fact that the head of the Russian delegation this time was Deputy Chairman of the Russian Supreme Soviet. This lift in status was a good signal he maintained, as was the fact that Yarov had confirmed a protocol to the May meeting in Dagomys, according to which:

the topic of negotiations between the authorized Russian and Chechen delegations ought to be the issue of recognition of Chechenia's political independence and state sovereignty.[18]

Yarovs high-level position and the fact that he had confirmed the protocol was, according to Abumuslimov 'indirectly a de facto recognition of the independent Chechen state.[19] Akhmadov, head of the Chechen delegation, held the view that Yarov, and thereby the Russian Supreme Soviet, had recognized Chechenia. 'Now Russia has to do it too'.[20] According to Akhmadov, Chechenia's principal position was the following:

We do not want to go back into the Russian Empire. We want an equal agreement. We will not go into the Federation. We are ready to consider membership in the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States), but as an equal member. We want to maintain economic relations with Russia, but also with other countries, and we will accept no Russian vetos over what we do.[21]

But also this time the Russians cooled down the Chechens. According to Yarov's assistant, this meeting too was only informal:

You keep saying that this is a Russian Federation delegation. I repeat, this is not an official Russian delegation. It is an unofficial visit arranged on the basis of an invitation from your leaders and with the aim of discussing questions that interests both sides.[22]

Russia's Second Forced Attempt

Chechen hopes for official high-level negotiations did not materialize. Instead Moscow once again threatened with military force. This happened in late October 1992, when Federal forces who were dispatched to the conflict-ridden Prigorodnyj region in neighbouring North Ossetia, were ordered to move to the Chechen border. Dudayev, perceiving this as 'an act of aggression against the Chechen Republic[23] declared a state of emergency and threatened with general mobilization if the Russian troops did not withdraw from the Chechen border. They did.

The most probable explanation to Moscow's second forced attempt is that the Russian delegation which visited Grozny in September, had, on its return to Moscow, told about a growing dissatisfaction with Dudayev, and that this had inspired Yeltsin to take this measure. If that is correct Yeltsin made premature conclusions. My impressions from talks with opposition groups in September 1992 is that although dissatisfaction with Dudayev was great, few opposed his profile claim on Chechen independence. On September 28, the opposition paper, Spravedlivost published a proclamation, signed by the most influential opposition groups, including the democratic party 'Dajmokh' headed by Professor Chadsjiev (later to become Chairman of the Provisional Govern­ment in Chechnia), The National Front, the parties Nokh Mochk, Niyso, Marso and others. The proclamation expressed the signatories 'unequivocal' support for the 'striving of the Chechen people's for freedom and independence' and stated that 'no matter how the situation develops in the Republic we categori­cally reject any form of outside interference in the internal matters of the Chechen Republic.[24]

Confronted with yet another outside threat the opposition again rallied around Dudayev and the Federal forces' onward march to the Chechen border confirmed Dudayev's position as a garant for Chechenia's national security.

The Russian Security Council: Support the Opposition

By this time the Russian Security Council had set up a commission mandated to analyze the situation in the North Caucasus and draw up principles for Russia's policy towards the region. In January 1993 the commission presented two reports. Both concluded, that the most serious problem in the region was 'national separatism' and that the best way to refute this was 'assisting the creation and growth in popularity of pro-Russian oriented social movements'.[25]

The recommendations of the Security Council Commission were materia­lized immediately.

After the averting of the outside threat in October 1992, internal Chechen conflicts again flared up. The opposition now gathered around leading figures in the Chechen Parliament who had fallen out with Dudayev. Contacts were established with these people, among which were Ch. Akhmadov, Premier Marnodayev and Y. Soslambekov (Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Chechen Parliament). On January 14, a Russian delegation, headed by S. Shakhray, Chairman of the State Committee for Nationalites, travelled to Grozny to discuss the principles for a Russian-Chechen agreement with the oppositional Chechen parliamentarians. According to a protocol for the meeting, working groups should be set up to work out a draft agreement 'On Delimitation of authority and mutual delegation of powers between the Russian Federation and the Chechen Republic'.[26]

This would be an agreement confirming that Chechenia was a part of the Russian Federation. 'Delimitation of authority' is something that takes place inside states. The previous Chechen Draft Treaty did not propose internal Federal sharing of power. It proposed inter-state cooperation, based on the two parties independence.

The highly estimated guest from Moscow did not bother to visit the Presidential palace, situated some few meters from the Parliament building, at the opposite side of the Central Square in Grozny.[27] According to earlier quoted Fiona Hill, there was a clear connection with the reports of the Security Council Commission and the Russian delegation's visit to Grozny in January 1993:

The reports provided the rationale for refusing to find a 'modus vivendi' with Dudayev's Chechen government and promoting Chechen opposition movements. Thus a pattern was established of meetings between top Russian officials and prominent members of the Chechen opposition. The juncture marked the end of attempts to negotiate with the Chechen leadership around Dudayev, and the beginning of attempts to put Russian forces in power in place of Dudayev.[28]

The Opposition Maintains Claims of Independence

In spring 1993 the conflict between Dudayev and the Chechen Parliament intensified. Premier Mamodayev was fired and replaced by Selimchan Yandar­biev who was also appointed Vice-President. After violent clashes between Dudayev supporters and opposition groups in the centre of Grozny in June 1993, Dudayev suspended the Parliament (which continued to work on a provisoric basis) and the Chechen Constitutional Court. Large pro-Dudayev demonstrations suggest, however, that Dudayev was still widely backed.

At the end of 1993 both the opposition and obviously also significant parts of the population demanded a more reconciliatory position towards Russian demands. My impression from a second visit to Chechenia in November 1993 was that extensive support existed for 'the Tatar model', that is an associated status with Russia. But none of the those I talked to were prepared to give up Chechen independence.

In the Nadteretjny region in the northern part of Chechenia (that has the biggest concentration of Russians after Grozny) a Provisional Council, headed by the local Mayor, U. Avtorchanov, was established in late 1993. According to Russian analysts, he was the only opposition leader in Chechenia that was prepared to give up Chechen independence.[29] The Deputy Foreign Minister, referring to the 1992 Chechen draft treaty, formulated the official Chechen position in the following way:

We would like to normalize our relations with Russia. But this can only be done through negotiations, where our first demand is Russian recognition of Chechenia's indepen­dence.[30]

New Russian Initiatives

After a pause for about a year, Russia took new initiatives. Probably inspired by a treaty between Russia and Tatarstan, signed on February 15, 1994, the newly elected State Duma on March 25 adopted a resolution 'On the political regulation of the relations between the organs of power of the Russian Federa­tion and the organs of power of the Chechen Republic'. The resolution, reportedly drawn up by S. Shachray, proposed a Russian-Chechen agreement, modeled on the February 15 Russian-Tatarstan treaty.[31] V. Shumeiko, Chairman of the Upper House (Council of Federation) proposed to declare Dudayev legitimate and that President Yeltsin should begin talks with him, but on condi­tion that Chechenia 'through her President undertake the duty of signing the Federation Treaty'.[32] (This condition was a bit surprising since Yeltsin actually had suspended the Federation Treaty by omitting it from the new Federal Con­stitution, approved in December 1993).

Also Yeltsin's Chief of Staff, S.Filatov, proposed to legitimize Dudayev but insisted that Chechenia sign the Federation Treaty before negotiations started and before Russia signed a treaty with her.[33]

In May, V. Chernomyrdin appointed Shachray to head a delegation to Grozny.

The Security Council Applies the Brakes

However, a few days after Shachray was appointed to head the delegation, he was fired as Minister of Nationalities, and was replaced by N. Yegorov, former Head of Administration in Krasnoyarsk. The appointment of Yegorov, a notorious hard-liner, known for his anti-Caucasian sentiments, signaled that Yeltsin still preferred an uncompromising policy towards Dudayev. On August 3 and 9, and again on September 6, the Russian leadership promptly rejected a proposal from Dudayev to negotiate.[34]

Dudayev even went as far as offering to resign if the international community recognized Chechenia as an independent state.[35]

The Federal Government’s attitude to Dudayev suggested that it stuck to the January 1993 Security Council recommendations. From summer 1994 and onwards the Russian leadership actively supported the anti-Dudayev oppo­sition in northern Chechenia. On August 26, opposition forces began a blockade of Grozny. The action, which failed, was financed from Moscow. In the begin­ning of November the Russian Security Service (FSK) dispatched armed units to support a new attempt by opposition forces to storm Grozny. Also this at­tempt failed and 70 Federal officers were captured by Dudayev's fighters. The Security Council decided on November 29 that the Chechen problem should be resolved resolutely, using armed force if necessary.[36] On December 6, Russian Minister of Defence, Pavel Grachev, travelled to Nazran to discuss the release of the captured Russian officers with Dudayev. This was the first and last time high-level negotiations took place between Russia and the 'inde­pendent' Chechenia. On December 11, Russian tanks crossed the Chechen border to effectuate Yeltsin's decrees of November 30 and December 9, to 're­establish Constitutional order in the Chechen Republic by all available means'.

Conclusion to Part I

Armed force was not the only available option in solving the Chechen problem in December 1994. There were several proposals to negotiate from the Dudayev side. A draft agreement was presented. Russia did not react adequately to the Chechen initiatives. Instead of entering into negotiations with Dudayev, who was the real power in Chechenia, Russia pinned her hope on a disorganized and ineffective opposition without substantial support from the Chechen population. There were voices and actors on the Federal side who opted for negotiations with Dudayev. But Yeltsin preferred to follow the hawks in the Security Council and other places. Dudayev's position was incompatible with the Federal one. But he was clearly interested in negotiations and advantage could have been taken of this by holding talks on a 'delaying principle', putting off decisions about substantial matters to 'somewhere in the future'. A decision on the issue of Chechenia's status could have been delayed, for example, by complicated technical and procedural problems. The important thing would just have been to negotiate. The status question could have been linked to other Chechen issues of high priority, especially economic. The possibility that Chechenia would sign a treaty similar to the one with Tatarstan was not ex­cluded, provided enough pragmatic and contradictory formulations had been found. There were perspectives in the Chechen proposal to enter the CIS.

Russia followed a strategy worked out at the end of 1992 and the beginning of 1993, and at a time when Dudayev's opposition was growing. The Federal government actively supported the opposition but overestimated its strength and popular support. Russia also underestimated the military strength of Dudayev's forces. This will be discussed in the following.


The July 1995 Military Agreement

The Russian Foreign Minister, Pavel Grachev, prognosed that the military operation in Chechenia would be completed in a couple of days. This prognosis turned out to be too optimistic however. The decision-makers in Moscow had clearly underestimated the military capability of Dudayev's fighters and the power of resistance of the Chechen population. President Yeltsin, however, maintained that negotiations with the 'bandits' were out of question.

A Chechen hostage-taking action, lead by Field Commander Shamil Basaev in the south Russian town of Budyonnovsk in the middle of June 1995, forced the Russians to the negotiating table.

A Russian delegation, headed by Russian Deputy Minister of Nationalities and Regional Policy, V. Michailov, was dispatched to Grozny to negotiate a peaceful settlement of the conflict with the Chechen side. Other members of the delegation were Arkadij Volskij, Chairman of the Union of Industrialists, A. Kulikov, and Chief of the Federal Forces in Chechenia, (since June 6, Rus­sian Minister of Internal Affairs). On the Chechen side a delegation was appointed including Usman Imayev, Minister of Justice, (head of delegation) and Arnat Zakayev, Minister of Culture. Later, Chief of Staff, Aslan Maskha­dov, was included and Imayev was replaced as head of the delegation by Kh. Yarikhanov. The negotiators met on June 19, at the headquarters of the OSCE Assistant Group dispatched to Grozny in April 1995. The meeting defined a group of military, economic and political issues to be discussed and resolved.[37]

After complicated negotiations, several times on the brink of collapse, a military agreement was signed on July 31, 1995. The agreement stipulated that a ceasefire be monitored by a Special Monitoring Group, exchange of detained peoples, disarmament of 'illegally armed formations', establishment of self defence groups in the demilitarized areas and a gradual withdrawal of Federal troops.

The Grozny talks were of great importance. Firstly, because Russia agreed to meet on an official level with representatives of the Dudayev side, hitherto regarded as illegitimate. Secondly, because Russia agreed to negotiate with the Dudayev side only. To begin with, the Russian delegation insisted that representatives of the Russian backed Provisional Government, (Government of National Revival) headed by S. Khadsjiev and the Committee of National Ac­cord, headed by U. Avtorchanov, participate in the negotiations. The Chechen delegation, however, refused to let representatives of these two bodies parti­cipate on the Chechen side. As a result they were included on the Russian side. The delegations at the negotiating table thus represented only the Russian Federation and the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria.

The 'two sides only' structure of the Grozny talks was confirmed by the composition of the Special Monitoring Commission, established in accordance with the July 31 agreement. The SMC was headed by the Commander of the Federal forces in Chechenia and Dudayev's Chief of Staff. No representative of the Government of National Revival and the Committee of National Accord was included.

Also of great importance was that the document agreed upon on July 31 did not specify what was actually meant by 'illegal' in the paragraph stipula­ting 'disarmament of illegal forces'. This made possible for the Chechen side to maintain that Chechen fighters were not to be disarmed, as they were not illegal, but authorized by the Defence Law of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria.

But the most important outcome of the Grozny negotiations was that the Russian side signed a military agreement without Chechen concession on the issue of Chechenia's status. During the negotiations, the Russian negotiators insisted that before a military agreement could be signed the Chechens should admit that Chechenia was a part of the Russian Federation.[38] The Chechens, however, refused to link a military agreement to the question of Chechenia's status and insisted that military and political issues be negotiated separately. By signing the agreement without Chechen concessions, Russia actually renounced the military invasion, initiated with the very aim of restoring 'the Constitutional order' in Chechenia.

During the negotiations, the positions held by both sides on the issue of Chechenia's status were as follows: On the Russian side:

The distinctive features of the future status of the Chechen Republic will be defined after the accomplishment of free, democratic elections after mutual coordination on terms agreed upon by the state authorities of the Russian Federation and the state authorities of the Chechen Republic, on the basis of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, the Constitution of the Chechen Republic and international law.


On the Chechen side:

The Russian Federation recognizes the independence of the Chechen Republic and Dhokhar Dudayev; the Cabinet of Ministers and Parliament resigns automatically. The future status of the Chechen Republic will be defined following the accomplishment of free, democratic elections, after mutual coordination of the terms agreed upon by the state authorities of the Russian Federation and the state authorities of the Chechen Republic on the basis of the Constitution?[39]

Had the Chechen negotiators consented to the Russian position before signing the military agreement, negotiations on Chechenia's 'future status' would pro­ceed from the fact that Chechenia was a part of the Russian Federation.

Now political negotiations had to proceed from the same positions as before the signing of the agreement, but on changed premises. Russia had agreed to withdraw without obtaining her goals. In reality this meant that Russia had relinquished Chechenia to Dudayev, insisting on Chechen independence. By accepting the Chechen delegation's refusal to include representatives of the Provisional Government, Russia had admitted that this organ had no power to decide on behalf of the Chechen Republic. By failing to qualify 'illegal for­mations' as forces, not authorized by the Russian Defence law, Russia actually gave Dudayev's fighters the green light to spread all over Chechenia assuming the function of 'self defence groups', provided for in the military agreement. Moscow realized that strategic mistakes had been made. How, and by whom, could Federal power now be restored in Chechenia?


Russia's 'Internalization' Strategy

Further negotiations with the Dudayev side would obviously not promote the restoration of Federal power. Russia therefore developed a new strategy, adap­ted to the new realities. The essence of this strategy was to avoid negotiations with the Dudayev side and to 'internalize' the conflict. To that purpose, new organs of power, balancing the Dudayev side and empowered to negotiate on behalf of the Republic of Chechenia, had to be established. Both the head of the Government of National Revival and the Chairman of the Committee for National Accord, were forced to resign. On October 24, the Checheno-Ingush Supreme Soviet which was dissolved on September 15, 1991, was restored.

Deputies of this dissolved body appointed its former Chairman, Doku. Zavgayev, as Head of the Government, now called the Government of the Chechen Republic. The new government and the restored Supreme Soviet were to act upon the laws of the Russian Federation and the Constitution of the Checheno-Ingush Republic.[40] (This Constitution was adopted in 1990, when the Checheno­-Ingush Republic was still an Autonomous Socialist Republic in the RSFSR).

The logic behind this 'restoration' strategy probably was the following: By reinstating the authorities that existed before the 'separatists' took over in 1991, Chechenia got organs of power, bestowed with legitimacy in pre-Dudayev internal Chechen laws (the Provisional Government had acted on Federal laws and decrees). Complaints that the Chechen Government was imposed from outside could be refuted. The Dudayev side would be reduced to an opposition group competing with other public organizations about influence on the issue of Russian-Chechen relations. Federal forces could be kept on Chechen territory not as a party to the conflict but as law enforcement organs securing order in a 'subject of the Russian Federation'. According to an Interfax report on October 25, Zavgayev said:

Touching upon talks between the Federal authorities and Dudayev's supporters... they should be gradually turned into inter-Chechen talks because they are an internal affair of Chechenia with which nobody should interfere.[41]

According to an ITAR-TASS report, Zavgayev 'expressed the view that repre­sentatives of the Chechen Government headed by himself could replace the representatives of the Federal authorities at the negotiating table'.[42] According to Russian Minister of Internal Affairs, A. Kulikov:

The situation in Chechenia is taking on a different qualitative nature with the arrival of the new leader, Doku Zavgayev. It seems to me the time has come when the further political development of the Republic should be discussed with Zavgayev,s government. The restoration of the constitutional structure and the restoration of the legitimate authority which existed under the criminal regime of Dudayev should be considered abandoned. ... All political discussions with the Dudayev side should end.[43]

The legitimacy of Zavgayev and the restored Checheno-Ingush Supreme Soviet was not unproblematic, however. Russia never approved the procedure of the transfer of power in the 'Chechen revolution' in 1991. But the Russian govern­ment and President Yeltsin promoted the ousting of Zavgayev and the dissolu­tion of the Checheno-Ingush Supreme Soviet (see p. 410). The restoration of a former Supreme Soviet on the territory of the Russian Federation in 1995 could hardly be justified in legal terms. The Checheno-Ingush Supreme Soviet was elected under the 1977 Soviet Russian Constitution and not under the existing Constitution of the Russian Federation , adopted in 1993. Besides it was also elected as the representative body of a compounded Republic. Since 1992 the Ingush have had their own Republic.

To improve Zavgayev's legitimacy, on November 18 the Chechen Supreme Soviet decided to hold elections for a 'Head of Republic' on December 17, the same day as the election of deputies to the Russian State Duma was to take place.

At a press conference in Moscow on November 20, Yeltsin's Chief-of-Staff, Sergey Filatov, expressed that: 'it is absolutely necessary to hold elections for a Chechen leader in order to legitimize the authorities in Chechnia'.[44]

All this was of course perceived by the Dudayev side as provocation. It was perceived as a gross deviation from the negotiation line agreed upon in June 1995 and a violation of the July 31 Military agreement, confirming that there were only two parties to the conflict, the Russian Federation and the Dudayev side, and that the latter was the only party empowered to negotiate on behalf of the Chechen Republic. The Dudayev side categorically rejected the restored Soviet power. Negotiations on Chechen-Russian relations could only be con­ducted with representatives of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, not the Zavgayev Government. At a press conference on November 17, President Dudayev stated:

There is a war going on, a Russian-Chechen war, the continuation of 350 years of con­frontation. There is no internal conflict. There will be none, nor can there be any. We will get over all our internal ills ourselves, without any third party.[45]

Accordingly, nobody except the legitimate authorities of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria was entitled to carry through elections to new organs of power in the Chechen Republic. Elections could only take place on the basis of the Chechen Constitution, adopted in 1992, which, by the way, does not provide for a 'Head of republic'. It provides for a President. Commenting on the plan­ned December 17 elections, Kh. Yarikhanov (who replaced Imayev as head of the Dudayev delegation at the July negotiations) stated:

There will be no elections on December 17 in Chechenia. The question of Chechenia's status shall be clarified before the election campaign.[46] Since President Yeltsin and Oleg Lobov (the representative of the Russian President to Chechenia, appointed in September 1995, MLM) decided, without consulting us, that the Republic's leader must be elected now, this means that they have given up further negotiations.[47]

According to Yarikhanov the election of a 'Head of Republic' was 'basically unconstitutional', and elections to the Russian State Duma on Chechen territory was totally out of the question since this was the legislative body of another state.

According to Duclayev's spokesman, Minister of Information, Movladi Udugov, a meeting of field commanders had adopted the resolution that 'any person who would dare to organize elections to the state bodies of a foreign country would be held personally responsible to the Chechen people. Such action, he said, 'will be regarded as a treason of national interests and will be punished according to war time realities'.[48] Udugov also said, 'there will be no elections in Chechenia until Russian troops are pulled out'.[49]

On November 27,1995, Dudayev's Defence Committee met to adopt a final plan of measures to prevent the December elections. The meeting, chaired by Dudayev, adopted a resolution, describing the actions of the Federal authorities as a gross violation of the Constitution of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria and all norms of international law. The meeting reiterated that before the full withdrawal of Federal troops from Chechen territory, any elections in Chechenia were illegal.[50]

But the elections took place. Zavgayev was reportedly elected by 93% of the votes. (Chernomyrdins party 'Our Home is Russia', gained the majority of votes in the Russian State Duma election). In order to avoid approving the elections, the OSCE Assistant group left Grozny temporarily in mid-December.

On December 8, a week before the elections, Zavgayev, Russian Premier V. Chernomyrdin and Lobov signed a Treaty on 'The main principles of the relations between the Russian Federation and the Chechen Republic', granting extended powers to Chechenia, but as a part of the Russian Federation. On January 2,1996,  Zavgayev declared that elections to a Chechen Parliamentary Assembly were to take place in March or April.


The Situation Exacerbates

The December election exacerbated the situation. Dudayev’s forces returned to a growing degree to guerrilla operations. The Federal side, obviously opting for a military solution escalated massive strikes and bombings of towns and villages suspected of being Dudayev strongholds. Clashes took place regularly, both inside and outside Grozny, indicating that the work of the Special Monitoring Group had collapsed.

Since the December elections a new device in the framework of the 'internalization' policy had been worked out. This was the so-called 'peace zones'. Inhabitants in towns and villages were persuaded to sign documents in which they obligated themselves not cooperate with, or support, Dudayev fighters.

In practice these documents were signed under threat. The 'peace zones' were established with the aim of 'balancing' the self-defense brigades provided for in the July 1995 Military agreement. The brigades often proved to consist of persons sympathizing with the Itchkeria side.

In the beginning of February 1996 Chechen Field Commander, S. Raduev, launched a raid against Federal military installations in neighbouring Dagestan. The operation failed and the fighters barricaded themselves in the village Pervornajskaja. Russia responded by massive bombardments of the village, but the fighters managed to escape. Raduevs action was a reaction to the developments of events in Chechenia and attempts to internalize the conflict. Its aim was to demonstrate that the Dudayev fighters were still around, and to force Russia to resume negotiations on the basis of the July 1995 military agreement.

In a speech on February 15, President Yeltsin said that the military operation in Chechenia 'perhaps' had been a mistake. Shortly after he said he would study proposals submitted by commissions set up to find a solution to the war.

At the end of February Chechen fighters launched an attack on Grozny and actually controlled the capital for several days. This too was a power demonatration aimed at refuting Federal attempts to decide on Chechenia's future, bypassing the authorities of Ichkeria.


Yeltsin's March 31 Peace Initiative

On March 31, Yeltsin declared that all military operations in Chechenia would cease at midnight. With the aim of 'reaching an agreement on Chechenia's status' the Russian side was prepared to 'negotiate with the Dudayev side through mediators'. Elaborating on his peace initiative on Russian TV, Yeltsin said that Chechenia's status was to be defined within the Russian Federation, but containing a 'maximum' of autonomy. (Yeltsin thus seemed to have forgotten, that an agreement granting extended autonomy to Chechenia inside the Russian Federation already was signed by Zavgayev and Chernomyrdin in December 1995.) Yeltsin's peace initiative also called for 'free democratic elections in Chechenia to the Republic's parliament'. However, only two days after Yeltsin announced his peace initiative Federal forces resumed the shelling of villages in the south of Chechenia. On April 23, President Dudayev was killed in a Russian air strike.

Yeltsin's initiative was announced three months before the Russian Presi­dential elections and at a time, when opinion polls indicated that Communist party leader, G. Suganov, would likely win the elections. Opinion polls also showed that the war in Chechenia was extremely unpopular among the Russian population. Continuos fighting thus threatened to jeopardize Yeltsin's reelection.


The Moscow and Nazran Negotiations

The Chechen 'separatists', now led by Dudayev's successor, Vice-President Selimkhan Yandarbiev, realized that internal political developments in Russia worked in their favour. Yeltsin's need for an end to the fighting enhanced their bargaining power.

Through the mediation of Tim Culdiman, Chairman of the OSCE Assisting Group in Grozny, contact was established between S. Yandarbiev and V. Cher­nomyrdin. On May 27 they met in Moscow and signed an agreement on regu­lation of the armed conflict. President Yeltsin was present at the meeting. According to the agreement, a ceasefire was to come into force on June 1. Detained peoples were to be released in the course of two weeks from the signing of the agreement. The negotiating Commissions were to continue their work.

At a press conference in Shali on May 28, Yandarbiev told that the Russian side had presented a draft agreement stating that Chechenia was a part of the Russian Federation. But just as in the summer negotiations in Grozny in 1995, the Chechen delegation rejected to link a military agreement to the issue of Chechenia's status. 'The important thing is not where we belong but to stop the war' the Chechen delegation had said. 'We did not concede that Chechenia belongs to any particular place', Yandarbiev stressed.[51]

When the Chechen delegation arrived at the May 27 talks in Moscow, they discovered that Doku Zavgayev also had been invited. But just as in the summer negotiations of 1995, they refused to include on the Chechen side representatives of marionette organs. This was accepted and the negotiations proceeded on the basis of the July 1995 military agreement, with two parties only. The Russian commission, set up in accordance with the agreement, and headed by V. Michailov included a representative of the Zavgayev Govern­ment. The Chechen commission set up was first headed by Vice President S. Abumuslimov, with Chief of Staff, Aslan Maskhadov, as deputy head. He later became the Head of Commission. While the Chechen delegation was still in Moscow, Yeltsin travelled to northern Chechenia, where he met with Federal soldiers and declared that they had won the war.

The talks in Moscow were followed up from June 5 to 10, 1996 by meetings of working groups under the Commissions in Nazran. In a protocol adopted at a meeting of the Commissions on June 10, the parties agreed on details in relation to the ceasefire: Checkpoints outside settlements should be eliminated and the withdrawal of Federal forces should be completed before the end of August 1996.

In the June 10 Nazran protocol, the parties for the first time agreed also on issues related to the political dimension of the negotiating process. According to point 5 of the protocol, ‘it is necessary to hold free and democratic elections to the organs of state power at all levels of the Chechen Republic and with the participation of all genuine political forces. The elections shall be subject to public and international monitoring after the withdrawal of the Temporarily United Forces (Federal forces, MLM) from the territory of the Chechen Repub­lic, and its demilitarization.’

These elections to the organs of power in Chechenia were defined as 'an internal matter of the Chechen Republic'.

This second provision was especially important. Since negotiations had begun in the summer of 1995, the Chechen side had insisted on elections on the basis of the Chechen-lchkeria Constitution only. This was provided for in the Nazran protocol, signed with the Ichkeria side only, and stipulating that elections were Chechenia's 'internal affair'.

Thereby the Parliamentary elections announced on June 16 by the Zavgayev administration were declared null and void. (The Chechen side did not oppose the carrying through of Russian Presidential elections in Chechenia, 'for citizens of the Russian Federation).

The Zavgav-organized elections were nevertheless held, and of course the Chechen side perceived this action as a provocation. But Yandarbiev obviously had decided to hold a low profile pending the outcome of the second round of Presidential elections on July 3.

However, the implementation of the Moscow and Nazran agreements went slowly. On June 28 the two Commissions met in Atagi, and both sides repor­tedly reproached each other for not fulfilling the agreements. Shortly after the Presidential elections, Federal forces resumed strikes and shellings of Chechen towns and villages. On August 6, Chechen fighters again seized Grozny.


The Khasavjurt Agreement

This second seizure of Grozny definitely demonstrated the military strength of the Chechen forces and the incompetence of the Zavgayev administration. It also demonstrated who had the real power in Chechenia and thus who could decide on Chechenia's future. Yeltsin appointed General Aleksander Lebed, newly appointed Secretary of the Security Council, to take responsibility for working out of a solution to the Chechen conflict. On August 22, he travelled to Grozny. A ceasefire agreement was signed by him and Maskhadov, stipula­ting the termination of all fighting on August 23. An exchange of prisoners was to begin immediately.

On August 31, Lebed and Maskhadov signed an agreement on 'The basis for mutual relations between the Russian Federation and the Chechen Repub­lic'. The crucial point in the document was that

An agreement on the mutual relations between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Chechenia, in accordance with the universal principles of international law, shall be reached before October 31, 2001.

Russia agreed that the relations between Chechenia and Russia should be based on international law. There were no references to the Federal Constitution. The agreement also confirmed the full withdrawal of Federal troops. The Chechens had finally obtained what they had fought for since November 1991.



In the negotiations that are to come, the Chechens will insist that they are inde­pendent. They will stress that Russia by recognizing the January elections also have recognized the attributes of the independent Chechenia: her organs of state power and her Constitution. Attempts to revoke the legal basis of the elections can be refuted by references to the Nazran protocols, which stipulated that elections to Chechen organs of power are to be her own internal affair. References to the remarks added to the Nazran protocols by the Russian Com­mission, stating that the Russian Commission do not recognize the legality of the Chechen Republic of Ichkerya, can be refuted by the fact that the Russian side nevertheless signed it, and that no such remarks were added to the May 1996 agreement, signed by President Selimkhan Yandrabiev and Victor Cherno­myrdin, nor the Khasavjurt agreement.

The Russians will have a hard time rejecting the fact that the authority of the Chechen President and Parliamentary Deputies originates in Chechenia, not in Federal Russia.

The Chechens will also claim that Russia has recognized the existence of a Chechen army, another attribute of an independent state. By signing the July 1995 and May 1996 agreements without Chechenia conceding that it is a part of Russia, Russia admitted that what was going on was indeed a war between states. If Russia makes another attempt to gain control over Chechenia by force, this will again be regarded as an act of war by the Chechens.

After the poor performance of the Federal forces in Chechenia and the humiliating defeat to a numerically insignificant adversary, Russia will probab­ly not try another military invasion. Contrary to 1994, a military option would be most unpopular among the Russian population, already outraged by the loss of thousands of young soldiers in a meaningless war.


Conclusion to Part II

While a new military campaign seems to be out of the question, Russia's possibilities to maintain control over Chechenia are not exhausted, and to a certain extent have even improved. The external reactions to the Russian-­Chechen conflict have confirmed that whatever strategic fears' Russia may have had in connection with the Chechen insurgence have turned out to be exaggerated. Neither Russia's rivals on her southern fringes nor any other state tried to profitize on the Chechen insurgence. On the contrary, the international community unanimously declared that the Russian-Chechen conflict was an 'internal Russian matter' and that Chechenia, according to international law, was a constitutional part of the Russian Federation. Even after the Chechens military victory over Russia and the unambiguous popular support for inde­pendence, manifested in the January elections, no state has announced that it intends to recognize Chechenia as an independent state. This, together with the economic realities will be Russia's most important bargaining card in future negotiations with Chechenia.

While the position of Western countries towards the Russian-Chechen con­flict was determined by considerations about the outcome of the Russian Presidential elections, the issue of recognizing Chechen independence has emerged in the context of calming the Russian resistance to NATO extension.

So even if Chechenia today is defacto independent, there is still a long way to go in terms of obtaining de jure independence. As long as the international         community sticks to a 'Russia first' approach, the Chechens also will have to take a 'Russia first' approach, making her the first to recognize the independent Chechenia. But Maskhadov will probably try to make the international community put pressure on Russia. This could be done by ‘'internationalizing’ the Chechen problem. Chechenia has the potential to inflate the already existing, but calmed down, conflicts in the Trans-Caucasus republics. This can be used as a bargaining card. A reunited Chechen-Ingush Republic with claims on Pri­gorodny would press thousands of South Ossetians, settled in Prigorodny back to South Ossetia in Georgia, destabilizing the situation in that Republic. Likewise, the 'export' of experienced, now unemployed Chechen fighters to Abkhazia or other conflict-ridden areas in the Transcaucasus would have de­stabilizing effects.

Hopefully, nothing of the kind will happen. Maskhadov has proposed that Chechenia enters a loose, confederal relationship with Russia. Time will show if Russia can accept this offer, which was available also before December 1994. Russia's premises for resisting are different today. After all, Russia lost a war.


[1] Izvestija, Feb. 7, 1997: 2.

[2] Fiona Hill, Russia’s Tinderbox. Conflict in the North Caucasus and its Implications for the Future Russian Federation. Harvard University, 1995: 81. For detailed informations on the developments of events in the period August-November 1991 see Ternistyj put’ k svobode, Grozny 1992, consisting of reports and analyzes collected from Chechen, Russian and Western medias. This publication also includes several interviews with Dudayev.

[3] Ternistyj put k svobode: 25.

[4] I. Dementevna,’Odinokij volk pod lunoj’. Izvestiya. Nov. 2, 1991.

[5] The Supreme Soviet of the Chechno-Ingush Republic also adopted a declaration of svereignty (Nov. 27, 1990, two days after NCCP). This one though, declared Checheno-Ingush sovereignity inside the framework of the Russian Federation. The Ingushs, who did not participate in the October elections, carried through a referendum (Nov. 30) on the establishment of a separate Ingush Republic inside the the Russian Federation. 70% of the Ingushs voted in the referendum and of those 97,4% voted for a separate republic. See A. Essaid, Henze and M.-L. Magnusson, Chechenia. Report of an International Alert Fact Finding Mission. London 1992: 35. Ingushia de jure left Chechenia on June 4, 1992, when the Russian Supreme Soviet adopted a law on the establishment of the Ingush Republic.

[6] Remizov, ‘Groza poka oboshla Groznyj’. Moskovskaya pravda, Nov. 12, 1991. Here quoted from Ternisty put’ k svobode: 89.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Quotation from Ternistyj put’ k svobode: 45.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Tamara Chagaeva, ‘Chechnya-Rossiya: Vstrecha parlamentariev’. Kavkazkij Dom, Oct. 31, 1992: 2.

[11] The two letters are undated, but judging from the historical events referred to in them they are written in spring 1992.

[12] ‘Tovarish general ili gospodin President?’. Kavkazkij kray. Here quoted from Ternistyj put’ k svobode: 152.

[13] Chechenia. An International Alert Report. London 1992: 50. The letter is dated Dec. 14, 1992.

[14] An English translation of the Chechen Constitution is found on Chechenia’s Official Homepage:

[15] Chechenskij fenomen. Almanakh. Vypusk 1. DINA-PRESS, 1966.

[16] The draft Treaty ‘Dogovor ob Osnovakh Meshgosdarstvennych otnoshenij Rossijskoj Federatsii i Chechenskoj Respubliki’ was published in Ichkeria. Sept. 28, 1992.

[17] Tamara Chagaeva, op. cit.: 1.

[18] Ibid.

[19] Ibid.

[20] Noted by this author at an International Alert meeting with Akhmadov Sept. 30, 1992.

[21] Chechenia. An International Alert Report: 38.

[22] Tamara Chagaeva, op. cit.: 1.

[23] Chechenia. An International Alert Report: 51.

[24] Spravedlivost, Sept. 28, 1992: 8.

[25] The two reports were ‘The current Etno-political Situation in the North Caucasus and the Path Towards its Stabilization’ and ‘The Conception of a Russian Nationalities Policy in North Caucasus’. See Fiona Hill, op. cit.: 84.

[26] Victor Kogan Yasny, Crisscross Chechen. Essys, articles, doucuments. Moscow, 1995.

[27] I. Dementeva, ‘Khotjat li russkie Chechni’, Izvestija, Jan. 17, 1995: 8.

[28] Fiona Hill, op. cit.: 84. Contrary to Hill I find no evidence of attempts to negotiate with Dudayev.

[29] I. Dement’eva, op. cit.,: 8. V. Vyzutovich, ‘Chto proischodit v Chechne’? Izvestia, 16 Aug. 1994: 5.

[30] Interview to the author, Grozny, Nov. 7, 1993. On the question: “Would you accept the Tatar model”, he answered: “No”.

[31] The treaty between Russia and Tatarstan does not mention that Tatarstan is a subject of international law and the word ‘associated’ is replaced with ‘united with’ Russia. Howevver, Tatarstan is united with Russia on the basis of the Russian as well as the Tatar Constitution, defining Tatarstan as a subject of international law.

[32] Eberhard Schneider,’Moscow’s decision for War in Chechnia’, Aussenpolitik, no. 11, 1995: 158.

[33] Ibid.: 158.

[34] Ibid.: 159.

[35] Ibid.

[36] Ibid.: 163.

[37] OSCE. Press Release, June 20, 1995.

[38] Marina Prevozkina, ‘Peregovory v Groznom vnov pod ugrozov sryva’. Russkaja mysl, July 20-26, 1995: 1.

[39] Ibid.

[40] BBC. Summary of World Broadcast, SU2445 B/5. Oct. 27, 1995.

[41] Ibid.

[42] BBC, SWW, SU/2447, Oct. 30, 1995.

[43] SWB, BBC SU/2450 B/9, Nov. 2, 1995.

[44] BBC, SWB, SU 2467 B/6, Nov. 22, 1995.

[45] BBC, SWB SU 2465 B/9, Nov. 20, 1995.

[46] BBC, SWB SU/2457 B/8, Nov. 10, 1995.

[47] BBC, SWB SU 2463 B/7, Nov. 17, 1995.

[48] BBC, SWB SU/2465, B/9, Nov. 20, 1995.

[49] BBC, SWB SU/2463, Nov. 17, 1995.

[50] SWB, BBC SU 2472 B/5, Nov. 28, 1995.

[51]‘Dudaev ne umer. On s nami’. Chechenskij fenomen. Vypusk 3, 1996: 34.