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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Moscow Mulls Dudayev Stance

Chechen rebel leader Dzhokhar Dudayev's diplomatic salvos received mixed reviews Tuesday, as contradictory reports from Chechnya left it far from clear whether President Boris Yeltsin's cease-fire was holding.

While administration officials prepared for a Wednesday meeting of a commission tasked with implementing the Chechen peace plan, officials and analysts considered the fallout from recent statements made by Dudayev in response to the peace plan unveiled March 31 by Yeltsin.

Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin on Tuesday ruled out Dudayev's terms for direct talks, calling him a criminal who unleashed the war in the first place.

"Chechnya is a part of Russia, and we will do everything to restore peace. But if somebody starts imposing his conditions, what negotiation results can one speak of?" Chernomyrdin told Itar-Tass.

He was referring to re The confusion in the diplomatic arena was mirrored in the military sphere.

Interfax reported that federal troops had taken control of the southern mountain village of Vedeno, although the agency did not specify whether the village had been taken by force or had surrendered.

Conflicting reports came in on the situation in Goiskoye, with one military official telling Interfax that Russian troops were not on the attack, while another report said Goiskoye was being shelled.

In Shali, Interfax reported troops had sealed off the village and told rebels to surrender, but other reports said there were at most 40 fighters in the town.

Yeltsin declared a unilateral cease-fire and called for negotiations with Dudayev "through intermediaries" in a televised address.

Dudayev, who claims he has still not seen the text of Yeltsin's plan, responded in a flurry of statements Sunday and Monday.

A transcript of the Dudayev's conversation with Borovoi was published in Tuesday's Moskovsky Komsomolets.

"In Russia, a quiet coup has in essence already taken place," Dudayev told Borovoi. "If personnel changes are not carried out immediately, you will bring a terrible misfortune on yourselves."

Dudayev charged that senior Russian officials, military and civilian, were flouting Yeltsin's orders. He named among the guilty General Vyacheslav Tikhomirov, commander of the Russian forces in Chechnya, General Pyotr Deinekin, head of the airforce, and Emil Pain, a Caucasus expert who has been involved in developing the Russian government's peace plan.

The rebel chief said the air strikes on Chechen villages and other attacks over the last week were a "provocation" by Yeltsin's enemies, who want to thwart negotiations and discredit the government. While Dudayev called these enemies of Yeltsin "red," he said they are not Communists, but rather "marauders" and "vultures."

Dudayev is not alone in thinking that forces in Moscow are attempting to derail a peace settlement.

"When Yeltsin announced that he is ready to talk to Dudayev, he made the observation that many of his close aides were against this idea," said Andrei Piontkowsky of the Moscow Center for Strategic Studies.

"Yeltsin himself reportedly put into the text of his address this passage about talking to Dudayev. The next morning, Tikhomirov declared that his understanding of negotiations are negotiations only about unconditional surrender, and military actions were then resumed even with more ruthless ferocity. So even if Yeltsin was serious, his idea of talks was defied by his military commanders."

Alexander Iskandaryan, director of the Center for Caucasian Studies, called Dudayev's demarche a tactical move "useful for both Dudayev and Yeltsin," designed to score propaganda points and allow time for regrouping before June's presidential elections.The Chechen rebel chief repeated his call for a governmental shakeup in an interview Monday night with Radio Ekho Moskvy. He also said that Chernomyrdin should be fired.

Amid the confusion, hopes for a rapid settlement to the 16-month conflict are sinking fast.

"I'm afraid that the war is already a guerrilla war, which tend to last a long time," said Iskandaryan. "To solve such conflicts, 10 percent of the effort has to be spent on military issues, 90 percent on political, social and economic issues. I don't see in the government the people and structures which are capable of carrying out complicated plans for bringing peace to Chechnya."