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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Chechnya Peace Plan Approved, Kept Secret

The Russian government's Security Council approved Friday a draft version of a peace settlement in Chechnya, but kept silent on the details while fighting intensified in the breakaway region.

President Boris Yeltsin said Friday that the Security Council had adopted the draft unanimously, but declined to disclose details of the document. He added that he would outline the plan in a televised address later this month "so that every Russian understands everything."

Interfax quoted the presidential press service as saying that the Security Council members had agreed that the conflict can be settled by exclusively political methods, without the use of force.

But Interior Minister Anatoly Kulikov told the State Duma that immediate withdrawal of Russian forces would "endanger Russian statehood," advocating a peaceful settlement through an "internal Chechen dialogue" combined with the elimination of "hotbeds of terrorism."

"The situation remains extremely tense and it continues to develop unfavorably for Russia," Kulikov told the legislators.

According to press reports, Russian forces Friday continued intense bombardment in and around the village of Bamut, a rebel stronghold. Chechen separatist sources reported that the federal troops began shelling several additional villages, including Vedeno, Nozhai-Yurt and Guder Yeltsin at that time gave his prime minister two weeks to come up with a viable plan to end the war out of seven possible variants. His press spokesman later elaborated on the plans, saying that they ranged from maintaining the status quo to the suppression of all resistance with "fire and sword."

The Presidential Council under the leadership of Chechnya expert Emil Pain also was commissioned by Yeltsin to come up with proposals. The deadline of Feb. 23 came and went with no discernable progress, and it was not until March 7 that the Russian president reported that a final plan had been devised -- one cobbled together from three separate proposals.

Some observers Friday said that the Kremlin now seems to be conducting several contradictory policies toward Chechnya simultaneously. "On the one hand, on the official level, the necessity for developing the political plan is emphasized," said Alexander Konovalov, an analyst with the USA/Canada Institute. "At the same time, there is the massive use of the armed forces on the ground."

Konovalov said it is possible that the Russian government is trying to wind up the military campaign as quickly as possible and then concentrate on the political plan.

Ruslan Aushev, president of Ingushetia, told the daily newspaper Segodnya that the Kremlin's strategy is to "clear a path towards a solution through the use of force."

Konovalov said that in order to pull off such a strategy, the Kremlin will have "to take Bamut and to lock the Dudayev supporters in the mountains within several weeks. Because the president is under severe time pressure. He has to report to the nation at the latest by the end of April or the beginning of May that the war is over."

Others doubted that the Kremlin in fact has any concrete plan to end the conflict.

"They are trying to make people believe that they know what to do," said Anatoly Shabad, a top official in Russia's Democratic Choice and a longtime critic of the war. "That is why they were postponing the accepting of the plan and the declaration of the plan."

There are also signs of disagreements within the Yeltsin team over what to do about the 15-month war. Shabad said that Pain now believes that talks between Dudayev and the Russian side "might be useful." Such a view would hardly be acceptable to Yeltsin -- who said in February that the Chechen leader "should be shot" -- or other members of the Security Council.

Meanwhile, a representative of the Moscow-backed Chechen government told reporters Friday that its head, Doku Zavgayev, believed that Russian troops in Chechnya were "out of control," and intended to demand an end to actions by Russian troops against the civilian population.

Dzhabrail Gakayev said that the Russian shelling of the town of Sernovodsk, which killed "dozens of women and children," played into the hands of Dudayev. He added that Zavgayev was eager for talks with Dudayev's field commanders, who "actually want to stop the war," but would refuse to negotiate with Dudayev himself, "who has openly declared war on his own people."