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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russia Seeks Dudayev for Talks

Nationalities Minister Vyacheslav Mikhailov said Thursday that Moscow was taking steps to get in touch with Chechen separatist leader Dzhokhar Dudayev for peace talks.

Mikhailov, quoted by Interfax, said the president of Russia's ethnic region of Tatarstan, Minitmer Shaimiyev, was acting as an intermediary in the search for contacts with Dudayev.

President Boris Yeltsin on March 31 offered mediated talks with Dudayev. He ordered a halt to all large-scale military operations in the region, but made clear full independence for the region was still out of question.

In contrast to Moscow's peace talk, General Anatoly Shkirko, commander of Interior Ministry troops, talked tough Thursday. He told Interfax that Yeltsin's peace plan was the best way to avoid "unnecessary bloodshed," but added: "Either the fighters will be smashed or let them give up their weapons. This matter cannot be stopped halfway."

Shkirko said "special operations" allowed under Yeltsin's plan were still needed to contain the rebels, though major offensives had been halted.