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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Premier to Unveil Chechen Peace Plan

Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin will report to the president Wednesday with a plan to end the war in Chechnya, but even before the details were made public analysts were skeptical of its worth.


President Boris Yeltsin demanded two weeks ago that a commission headed by Chernomyrdin come up with a peace plan this week.


Yeltsin's press secretary, Sergei Medvedev, has said the options under consideration range from a complete and unconditional military pullout to energetic use of "fire and sword," followed by negotiations with "survivors, if any."


Emil Pain, an expert on Chechnya, has also been charged by the president with developing a peace plan. Both Pain's and Chernomyrdin's reports will be discussed at the next meeting of the Security Council -- a advisory body staffed by top government and security officials.


Press officers for Yeltsin and Chernomyrdin refused to divulge details of the plan, nor could they say whether Yeltsin would reveal it when he gives his State of the Union speech Friday before the Duma. Pain's team members also refused to give interviews on the grounds that they were swamped putting together their report.


Alexander Iskandaryan, director of the Center for Caucasian Studies, said he expected both plans to leave a large role for Doku Zavgayev, the Moscow-backed winner in widely criticized elections held in Chechnya in December. But any plan that grants Zavgayev legitimacy is probably doomed, Iskandaryan added.


"[Rebel Chechen leader Dzhokhar] Dudayev's supporters ... want to deal with someone realistic," Iskandaryan said.


"Zavgayev can't even move about Grozny," he said. "He sits at the airport, surrounded not just by Chechen police but by federal military forces. He has the support of, at most, a few hundred people in Chechnya. He's not a figure who can participate successfully in negotiations."


But according to both Iskandaryan and Dmitry Trenin, an analyst with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a face-to-face meeting between Yeltsin and Dudayev remains unlikely. "Too much has been said already," Trenin said, noting Yeltsin said last week that Dudayev should be shot. "I don't think they'll negotiate directly with Dudayev, nor will they cut him off from all talks. They will use [Zavgayev] as padding, to keep from meeting Dudayev directly."


Several prominent critics of Yeltsin's handling of the war, including former prime minister Yegor Gaidar, human rights leader Sergei Kovalyov, Yabloko party leader Grigory Yavlinsky and the chairman of the Duma's foreign relations committee Vladimir Lukin, put forth their own peace plan in Izvestia on Tuesday. They called for an immediate cease-fire and peace talks, then a full troop withdrawal and a referendum on independence.


Yeltsin is looking desperately to get rid of the unpopular war. But Tuesday's proposals may nevertheless be too bold, Trenin said. "The president and his government are unlikely to be capable of the sort of dramatic action proposed by Gaidar and Yavlinsky in Izvestia," he said.