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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Rybkin Cut From Role In Grozny

Security Council Secretary Ivan Rybkin said Wednesday he had been removed as chief representative to Chechnya as part of a general downsizing of Moscow's mission to the rebel territory.

Rybkin has played a key role throughout the negotiating process for the past year since taking over the job from sacked Kremlin security adviser Alexander Lebed in October 1996, shortly after the 21-month war ended.

President Boris Yeltsin had signed a decree replacing Rybkin with Valentin Vlasov, previously the deputy Russian government representative in Chechnya, Rybkin's spokesman Igor Ignatyev said.

Ignatyev said, however, that Rybkin would continue to be "responsible for the negotiating process."

Ignatyev described the change as part of a scaling down of Moscow's presence in the North Caucasus republic, which declared independence in 1991 and drove out Russian troops in a 1994-1996 war, but is still considered part of Russia by Moscow.

Russian and Chechen ministries "must work directly. An extra intermediary is not necessary," he said.

Five or six Russian representatives will be posted in Chechnya, not the current 19, bringing the number to a level similar to that in other federal regions, Interfax quoted Rybkin as saying.

Rybkin said a new federal commission will deal with Chechnya's disastrous economic and social situation.