. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Zavgayev Officials Flee After Dismissal

The head of the pro-Moscow government in Chechnya has dismissed his moribund administration, prompting officials still living in the republic to immediately board planes at the Russian-controlled airport and fly out, Interfax reported.

The move paves the way for Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin to sign an agreement this week with the separatists, who have been the de facto leaders of the republic since they seized Grozny last August.

Doku Zavgayev, the official leader of Chechnya although he has played little part in developments since he was booted out in August, signed the decree dismissing his prime minister, Nikolai Koshman, and cabinet on Saturday.

Zavgayev and most of his government fled Chechnya long since, but officials had continued to use their offices at Grozny's Severny airport, living under the protection of Russian troops based there.

Russian government representatives locked up the offices of the departing Chechen officials, who flew to Moscow and elsewhere in Russia over the weekend, Interfax said. Some office workers left behind complained that they had not been paid by their fleeing bosses, the agency reported.

It was not clear whether the Chechen Interior Ministry police who fought alongside Russian soldiers in Grozny in August also left. Chechen rebels have estimated some 50 Chechen police were hiding under Russian military protection either in Severny airport or the army base at Khankala.

Security Council Secretary Ivan Rybkin welcomed Zavgayev's move as an "act of goodwill," paving the way for a coalition government and elections.

Zavgayev did not resign as head of the republic, however, telling Interfax he would remain in office until presidential elections Jan. 27. He also left open the possibility that he would stand in the elections.

Rybkin, meanwhile, met with the rebel national security adviser Akhmed Zakayev on Saturday to agree on the final wording of an important accord on Russian-Chechen relations and finance for reconstruction.

Chernomyrdin and Chechen Prime Minister Aslan Maskhadov will sign the agreement within the next few days, Rybkin told the RTR television news program "Zerkalo" on Sunday night.

"The signing ceremony should not be delayed," Zakayev said after the meeting, which took place in Moscow, Interfax reported.