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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russian Officials Set to Discuss Chechen Aid Plans

Top Russian officials will meet Sunday to work out aid plans for the separatist region of Chechnya, amid promises from Russia's top negotiator that aid will start flowing before crucial elections, scheduled for January.

Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin has called a special meeting for Sunday of the ministries involved in the reconstruction of Chechnya to discuss aid plans, according to Ivan Rybkin, secretary of the Security Council and presidential envoy to Chechnya. The influential Security Council will then meet Monday to do the same.

Rybkin said that Russia has already sent detailed proposals for political and economic assistance to Chechen rebel leaders. The proposals set out plans, "by days and weeks," to help the war-torn region in the run-up to January elections, Rybkin told Ekho Moskvy radio Friday, Reuters reported.

Based on suggestions from Chechen rebels and Russian ministries and departments, the proposals cover political, economic, legal and social issues, Interfax reported.

The latest aid promises are a sign that the Russian side wants to maintain the momentum of the Chechen peace process, which threatened to stall after Alexander Lebed was fired three weeks ago to be replaced by Rybkin, who has made strong anti-Chechen remarks in the past.

Rybkin said Friday that the goal was to conclude needed temporary agreements and protocols until a new Chechen government and president are formally elected Jan. 27.

A cease-fire signed by Lebed ended a bloody 20-month war in the region in August, but the status of Chechnya has remained undecided.

Chechen separatist forces remain in control of almost all of the territory of Chechnya and most expect that pro-independence groups will dominate in the January elections.

Chernomyrdin, who is now expected to meet with Chechen separatist leader Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev before the end of the month, said preparations for a deal on assistance were going ahead fast.

"We will continue moving toward the resolution of Chechnya's problems at this rate. I think that the problems will be resolved, there will be no turning back," Interfax reported him saying Friday.

Confirming his plans to meet with separatist leaders, Chernomyrdin said Boris Berezovsky, recently appointed deputy secretary of the Security Council with special responsibility for reconstructing the Chechen economy, had been specifically working on preparations for the meeting.

"Before I fly, I must know what we should do, and what decisions we must arrive at," he said.

Berezovsky returned to Moscow on Friday to brief the Russian leadership after holding talks with rebel leaders Thursday in Nazran, capital of Chechnya's neighbor, Ingushetia.